Did the Italian authorities mislead the Supreme Court to get its permission for allowing the two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen to go back for casting their votes?
The mystery deepened on Wednesday as the opposition mounted a strong attack on the government, and the documents showed there appeared to lack clarity on whether the two marines could have been allowed to vote in the Italian embassy in the capital.
The SC, in its February 22 order, referred to the affidavit filed by Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini, in which he cited Italy's law to support the case of marines being temporarily allowed to go back home for voting. "In the affidavit, the ambassador has indicated that under Italian laws, the petitioners (marines) are not entitled to cast their votes in present circumstances and to travel to Italy for the purpose," the SC said in its order.
The content of the affidavit, however, drew criticism from the opposition. Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley drew the attention towards a notification issued by the Italian interior ministry on voting rules for its overseas citizens.
Under the sub-heading, 'How do Italians living abroad temporarily vote?' the notification states: "Citizens entitled to vote by mail: military and police personnel and civil servants must submit an application to their headquarters… Names of those eligible will then be sent to consular offices to facilitate voting."
Though this provision does not specifically mention Italian citizens who are in jails abroad, it raises questions on why this facility being available to its overseas nationals was not told to the SC by the Italian authorities. Questions are also being raised on whether diplomatic immunity should apply to those who tried to mislead India's top court, with reference to the conduct of Mancini.