The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was on Monday handed over the probe into the alleged killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines off the Kerala coast.
The home ministry took the decision after the Supreme Court ruled that the Kerala government has no jurisdiction to prosecute the two marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - allegedly involved in the killing of the fishermen last year.
NIA will investigate the case from the beginning and file the chargesheet in an NIA special court or any other special court to be set up by the government in consultation with the apex court, home ministry sources said.
The ministry is likely to convey to the Supreme Court that since there is an NIA special court in Delhi, the high-profile case can be tried by it instead of another special court being set up.
The apex court on January 18 had said that the marines on board Enrica Lexie, accused of shooting dead the two fishermen in February last year, be shifted to Delhi and be under the 'custody' of the Supreme Court till the Centre constitutes a special court to hold their trial.
"The incident of firing from the Italian vessel on the Indian shipping vessel having occurred within the Contiguous Zone, the Union of India is entitled to prosecute the two Italian marines under the criminal justice system prevalent in the country," the bench had said.
The apex court had said that since the Kerala government had no jurisdiction to prosecute the two foreign marines, it had to be done by the Centre in a special court to be set up after consulting the Chief Justice of India.
The incident took place at a distance of about 20.5 nautical miles from the coastline of Kerala and, therefore, it occurred not within the territorial waters of the coastline of Kerala state, but within the Contiguous Zone, over which the state police of Kerala ordinarily has no jurisdiction, the court had said.
The Italian government had a fortnight back reversed its earlier decision not to send back to India the two marines, who had gone to Italy to cast votes in elections there.
Italy had reneged on its assurance to the Supreme Court on sending back the two marines but later gave in after the Indian government and the apex court took a firm stand with New Delhi warning that ties with Rome could be downgraded.