Agreeing that Italian ship Enrica Lexie is not the object of crime,the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the detained vessel to leave Indian waters and continue with its voyage nearly three months after two marines on board allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen,mistaking them for pirates.
The two marines involved in the February 15 shooting are in custody.
A Bench of Justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale passed the order freeing the ship after the vessels owners and Italian government assured the court that they would secure the presence of six crew members and four remaining marines as and when required by any Indian court or lawful authority for investigation or trial.
The marines,of course,have the right to contest any such summons before a competent court in India,the court clarified.
The court instructed the vessel owner,the managing directors of the ship and the shipping agents to give written undertakings to the Registrar,Kerala High Court,to this effect. It further directed the ship owner to execute a bond of Rs 3 crore before the Registrar.
The order comes after the Kerala government,represented by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium,said it had no serious objections to the release of the ship as long as certain safeguards are put in place.
The release should not impede any lawful proceedings in future,the court agreed with Subramanium. The Union of India,represented by Attorney General GE Vahanvati,seconded the state governments stand.
The Italian governments assurance comes a day after the apex court expressed strong disapproval of payment of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the dead fishermen,in what was alleged by the state government as a bid to buy the families silence.