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SC adjourns hearing in Italian marines case


New Delhi, Aug 26:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned till January 13, 2016 the hearing on the plea of two Italian marines questioning the NIA probe into killing of two Indian fishermen in 2012, as it was told that the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has asked both India and Italy to put on hold all court proceedings in the matter.

supreme court 1A bench of Justice Anil. R. Dave, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Amitava Roy adjourned the hearing after senior counsel Soli Sorabjee appearing for the Italian marines and Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narsimha appearing for the central government urged the court to adjourn the hearing.

At the outset of the hearing, Sorabjee appearing for the marines – Massimilano Latorre andASalvatore Girone – told the court that certain events have taken place since the last hearing of the matter on April 9 and the Hamburg-based ITLOS by its August 24 order has urged the suspension of all the proceedings and keeping it as it is.

The court was told that the annex seven tribunal of the ITLOS would adjudicate on the question whether India or Italy had the jurisdiction to try the marines for killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in February 2012 allegedly mistaking them for pirates.

The court was told that it has been agreed between India and Italy that till judgment by the international tribunal comes, the court proceedings before Indian courts would remain on hold. The court was also told that India that being a signatory to the International Convention on Seas would abide by ITLOS’ interim order.

The court was told that annex seven is a five member tribunal with India and Italy nominating one member each and three independent members which are agreed by both the countries.

Since the last date for both India and Italy to together name remaining three members lapsed without they being able to, the ITLOS president gave them another 15 days. If they still fail to jointly name three other members, then ITLOS president would step in and select three members.

As the court directed the listing of the matter in January next year, it was asked to give a date further ahead as it would take four to five months before annex seven tribunal was constituted and starts functioning.

Not inclined to adjourn the hearing sine die, the court directed the next hearing on January 13 as Narasimha told the court that six month extension given to Latorre to stay in Italy on health grounds would be coming to an end on January 15 and the court will have to take up the matter before that.

In the wake of government decision not to invoke the provision of the anti-piracy Suppression of Unlawful Act against the safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Law (SUA), the marines and the Italian government had taken a position that once a case under SUA is not made out then the jurisdiction of NIA as an investigating agency also goes and they have challenged its continuation in the role. (IANS)


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