Italy playing with Indian law, says SC
The Supreme Court on Monday expressed it displeasure at the compromise struck between the Italian government and the families of two Kerala fishermen, who were shot at sea by Italian marines in February this year. HT reports. Fishermen kin take back case against Italiansdelhi Updated: May 01, 2012 01:44 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday expressed it displeasure at the compromise struck between the Italian government and the families of two Kerala fishermen, who were shot at sea by Italian marines in February this year.
In an agreement with the Italian government, the victims' families agreed to drop civil proceedings against the marines in exchange for Rs. 1 crore compensation. A private criminal complaint, which was at a pre-cognisance stage before a local magistrate, too has been withdrawn.
"By making her (widow) a payment of Rs. 1 crore her mouth has been locked. The manner in which the entire legal process is sought to be defeated is not permissible. They are playing with the Indian process of law. You should have advised the Kerala government not to allow it," a bench of Justice RM Lodha and Justice HL Gokhale told senior counsel Gopal Subramanium appearing for the State.
The court was hearing MT Enrica Lexie's appeal to release its ship carrying the marines. The families are party in the company's plea. Seeking the Italian government's stand on the plea the SC fixed Tuesday for hearing the matter further.
The court termed the compromise ‘illegal’ and ‘astonishing’.
What pained the bench was the fact that a decree was passed upholding the compromise that also included payment of Rs. 17 lakh to the owner of the boat that carried the fishermen.
Though the compromise has no bearing on this case, Kerala told the SC it would challenge the compromise.
"By this means the Indian legal system has been defeated by entering into an agreement with the woman. This is something which is not acceptable. ... The state government should have filed objection," the bench remarked.
It, however, declined to pass any adverse order against the crew and the four marines aboard the vessel because they are entitled to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.