The Supreme Court on Friday permitted two Italian marines, accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala, to travel to their country to cast vote in the upcoming elections there.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said that the accused marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, would travel to Italy under the control and custody of the ambassador of Italy in India, to cast their ballot in the elections scheduled for February 24 and 25.
The bench also comprising justices AR Dave and Vikramajit Sen allowed the plea of the two marines and the Italian government to allow them to travel for four weeks to Italy.
"We are inclined to allow the prayer," the bench said while asking the Italian ambassador to file an additional affidavit on behalf of the Republic of Italy.
While allowing the plea, the bench noted that under the Italian law, the marines are not entitled to cast their votes through postal ballot.
The bench said that the marines are only allowed to travel to Italy and remain there and will have to return to India.
During the hearing, the court was told that the trial court in Kollam, Kerala, has not handed over the passports of the two marines to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in accordance with the January 18 order of the apex court.
The bench was told that passports have been mailed on February 16 and it has not yet been received by the MHA.
Taking this fact into consideration, the bench permitted that in case the passports are not received, the marines can travel on the temporary documents and the MHA will inform the authorities at IGI Airport and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) about this order.
The two marines were on board the Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie', when they had shot dead the two fishermen on February 15, last year.
The apex court also said that the marines before leaving and after arriving back in India shall report to Chanakyapuri Police Station in accordance with the apex court's January 18 order.
On January 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case and had held that the two marines should be tried by the Centre by constituting a special court to conduct 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.
It had directed that the two be shifted to Delhi and would remain under it's 'custody' till the special court is set up.
The court had said that the Kerala government did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute the two foreign marines and it is to be done by the Centre in the special court to be set up after consulting the CJI.
The court had also said that all the conditions imposed on them by the Kerala court, while granting them bail will remain till the special court is set up and the marines will mark their presence at least once a week before Chanakyapuri Police Station.