The NIA wanted to send a team to Italy for recording the statements of these four witnesses, but has been forced to drop the move. The government’s legal arm is of the view that the Italian marines could raise the issue of jurisdiction under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), saying it does not apply outside India.
The law ministry has told the government that the National Investigation Agency could not record statements of witnesses.
The legal opinion comes nearly six months after the Supreme Court directed the NIA to probe the case and called for a trial on a day-to-day basis. The agency, however, has been struggling to record the statements of four marines who were onboard the Italian vessel, when their two colleagues had allegedly shot dead the fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
The strong Italian stand has put the concerned ministries in a spot and officials admit that the time is running out for the National Investigation Agency to complete the probe and file a chargesheet in the special court set-up for this case.