The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended all court proceedings in connection with the trial of two Italian marines who allegedly killed two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.
A bench headed by Justice AR Dave issued the order after both counsel -- for the marines and the Union Government -- requested for a “status quo” order until a UN-linked tribunal gives its final ruling on dispute between India and Italy as to where should the two marines face criminal prosecution.
Italy says since the incident took place in international waters, which is why the marines should be tried back home. However, India wants the men to be tried in an Indian court. In accordance with the SC judgement, the Centre has designated a special court in the national Capital to conduct the murder trial against the marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone.
The SC, however, turned down the marines’ plea to adjourn the case before the top court “sine die” until the tribunal gave its decision. The matter would now come up during the third week of January 2016.
Additional solicitor general PS Narasimha said the proceedings before the tribunal would end within a month.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea had last week halted all current court proceedings related to the case and asked both countries to "refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute". It had rejected Italy's request for the marines to be freed while they await the final ruling.
Girone is currently staying in the Italian embassy in Delhi, while Latorre returned to Italy on medical grounds after SC permitted him to travel.
Both the marines have moved the SC challenging special agency -- National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) jurisdiction to probe the case, especially after the government dropped the anti-piracy charges against them. They say in the wake of amended charges the NIA cannot prosecute them since it was a specialised agency assigned to carry out specific tasks.