The UPA regime’s decision to drop all charges under the anti-terror special law SUA has put the possible prosecution of two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen, in jeopardy with the government now finding it difficult to sustain the case against them only for charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), sources familiar with the matter told HT.
The charges under the SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act of 2002) against the two marines were totally dropped by the previous UPA regime in February this year.
Sources in the home ministry said the IPC is applicable in cases of offences that occur up to 12 nautical miles from the shore and the shooting incident took place beyond that limit but within Indian contiguous zone (up to 24 nautical miles) and the exclusive economic zone (up to 200 nautical miles).
“If charges under SUA had remained applicable, the issue of jurisdiction would not have come as being an anti-terror law it can be applied up to exclusive economic zone. But the IPC can be applied beyond 12 nautical miles in cases wherein the sovereign right of India to explore non-living and living resources is endangered.
Now our plea is that the fishermen were exploiting living natural resources (fish) and the action of Italian marines put that in jeopardy, therefore IPC is applicable in the case,” said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.
The two Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, onboard MT Enrica Lexie, allegedly opened fire on an Indian fishing boat killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012. Latorre was allowed to go home by the SC two months back after he suffered a condition similar to a mild stroke.