April 3, 2013 1:04:16 am
Acknowledging that the assurance given to it had not been breached despite flip-flop,the Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted its March 14 curb on Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India after being informed by the Centre that the two marines have returned to face trial for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast last year.
Satisfied that Mancini had honoured his undertaking to the court over return of the marines after a four-week stay in Italy,a bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir modified its previous order,which had restrained the envoy from leaving the country in view of Italys initial stance on reneging on its promise to send the marines back.
The bench,however,pointed out that a special court to try the marines required to be set up and made functional expeditiously since it was a special case requiring attention of all authorities concerned.
What about the special court? This needs to be done swiftly. They (marines) are people from outside. We cannot hold them back for long, said the court,which had in its January verdict asked the Centre to set up a special court after consultation with the CJI. The marines were also asked to relocate to New Delhi from Kerala after it had ruled that Kerala had no jurisdiction to try them in view of the place where the incident occurred.
The bench requested Attorney General G E Vahanvati to explain steps taken for formation of the special court,saying: It must be sped up. If they are held guilty,they will serve their sentence and if not,they will go back.
Vahanvati informed the court that all necessary steps were being taken to set up the special court and that Delhi High Court had also been consulted over this.
Accused marines Massimilano Lattore and Salvatore Girone were allowed by the court on February 22 to go to Italy on an assurance of return given by Mancini. They were on board ship Enrica Lexie when the killings took place on February 15 last year. However,in a volte-face Italy later issued a note verbale stating that the two Italian marines will not return to India. After this the court restrained Mancini from leaving India.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi,appearing for Italy,submitted that he had read news reports that a chief metropolitan magistrates court has been set up to hold trial,which couldnt be permitted as such a court was not authorised to proceed in the matter. He also said the NIA,reported to have to have been given the task of probing the case,had no jurisdiction.
Vahanvati,however,said that media reports were not absolutely correct and that the affidavit would explain the real position. The court will now hear the matter on April 16.
During the hearing,Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy also sought to address the court but was denied permission to speak. Swamy,however,alleged there was a collusion in the matter and that Indian government had assured Italy that its marines would not be given death penalty.
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