India to follow UN court order in Italian Marines case, Supreme Court told
The five-member arbitral tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has ruled India is entitled to compensation in the case but said the marines are entitled to immunity and that India is “precluded from exercising its jurisdiction”.Updated: Jul 04, 2020 07:23 IST
The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to dispose of the proceedings related to the 2012 killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines off the Kerala coast, saying it has agreed to accept a UN tribunal’s ruling in this regard.
The five-member arbitral tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has ruled India is entitled to compensation in the case but said the marines are entitled to immunity and that India is “precluded from exercising its jurisdiction”.
The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, moved the Supreme Court against a May 2012 judgment of the Kerala high court, which held the state government had the jurisdiction to try them. The high court ruled the marines enjoyed no state immunity since their act of shooting at the fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Valentine Jalastine, was neither in the defence of the vessel nor the state.
The matter is pending before the Supreme Court, which granted the marines conditional bail and allowed them to return to Italy in 2016.
The marines were guarding an oil tanker when they killed the two Indians on a fishing boat and took India-Italy ties to an all-time low.
“The Republic of India has taken a decision to accept and abide by the award passed by the Tribunal which would have the bearing on the continuance of present proceedings before this Hon’ble Court. The applicant [central government) is, therefore, placing the award on record with a prayer that the proceedings with regard to the incident dated February 15, 2012, be disposed of in conformity with the Award passed by the Tribunal,” the Centre said in its plea on Thursday.
The tribunal’s ruling was uploaded online on Thursday. It said the marines enjoyed immunity since they were exercising official functions in their capacity as Italian state officials when the incident occurred. The tribunal, therefore, ordered India to stop criminal proceedings against them.
The tribunal said Italy violated India’s right to navigation by firing at the fishing boat St Antony and will have to compensate for the loss of life and damage to property. “The Parties are invited to consult with each other with a view to reaching agreement on the amount of compensation due to India,” the order said.
The row over the killing of the fishermen disrupted bilateral ties for years. HT on Thursday reported the two sides have decided to move on from the incident in view of their growing convergence.