The National Investigation Agency insisted the federal agency was empowered to take the Italian marines case to its logical conclusion amidst speculation that the CBI might be roped into the case.
A senior NIA officer, however, was dismissive of the speculation about a CBI role in the probe.
The reports - that a section in the government was playing with the idea of involving the CBI - came in the backdrop of the Italian government mounting pressure on New Delhi. Italy has been pressing India to ensure that the marines – accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coat – should not be sent to the gallows.
There was a view that the NIA – which had invoked the tough maritime safety law – would build its case around this law which prescribes death penalty for any violent act that causes death in the high seas.
An NIA officer, however, pointed that the agency could be involved with the prosecution of the case even if no case was made out under the stringent maritime law: Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002.
While New Delhi hasn’t given a sovereign assurance to Italy that the marines won’t get the death penalty, sources said the government was well within its powers to commute the death penalty in case of the conviction of the marines under the maritime law. Also, it is being pointed out that in case the Italians are convicted, it would not be a cumbersome exercise to ensure that the marines serve their jail term back home in Italy and not an Indian jail.
India and Italy had signed an agreement last year under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act that let convicts serve their sentence in their home country rather than a foreign jail.