The Union home ministry confirmed on Friday that the two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012, would not face death penalty.
The decision comes close on the heels of Italy mounting pressure on India to expedite trial in the two-year-old case and threatening to take up the marines' "plight" with its international partners.
The Supreme Court had also asked the Centre to take a quick decision on whether it would invoke the maritime safety law — under which if anyone causes death, he or she will be awarded with death penalty — to prosecute Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre.
Onboard the MT Enrica Lexie, they had allegedly killed fishermen Ajesh Binki and Jelestine off the Kerala coast in 2012 after mistaking them for pirates.
The home ministry, which had earlier assured Italy of not handing over death penalty to the marines, was caught on the wrong foot as The National Investigation Agency sought its approval to prosecute the duo under the maritime law.
After a series of high-level meetings, the government has revised the sanction to prosecute the two and dropped the death penalty clause.
(With PTI inputs)