The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that Italy had initiated a transfer of Rs 10 crore as compensation for the death of two Indian fishermen, who were killed by Italian marines off the Kerala coast in 2012, Live Law reported.
Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Centre, told a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde that as soon as the money is received, the government will deposit it with the Supreme Court, as per its April 9 direction, according to PTI.
The court was hearing a plea by the central government, seeking to close the criminal cases against the two Italian marines in India after accepting the compensation offered by Italy. On April 9, the court had made it clear that the cases against the Italian nationals will be closed only after the European country paid an amount of Rs 10 crore. It had asked the Indian government to deposit the money before the court within a week of receiving the amount from Italy.
During the hearing on Monday, the bench enquired whether the Italian government had transferred the amount in the account specified by the Ministry of External Affairs. “Where is the money?” the court said.
Nair told the court that Italy had initiated a transfer, and that the Indian government was waiting to receive the money.
The chief justice accepted the submission, but questioned why the Centre had insisted on an early hearing in the matter and said that the money would be deposited before the Supreme Court within three days. “We will keep it next week [the date of hearing],” Bobde said, according to PTI. “That’s what we said initially. But you said three days...We know how fast you work.”
In response, Nair said: “We expected a quicker response from Italy.” He also reiterated that the Indian government will deposit the money as soon as it receives it from Italy.
The court will continue to hear the case next week.
In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands had ruled that India is entitled to claim compensation from Italy, after the two Italian marines were accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012. The marines, who were onboard Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie on February 15, 2012, said they had fired at the fishermen because they believed they were in international waters and claimed to have mistaken them for pirates.
The international court had said the two marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, had violated international law and as a result Italy breached India’s freedom of navigation, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The tribunal said compensation must be provided to India for loss of life, material and moral harm suffered by the captain and crew of the Indian shipping vessel on which the marines fired.
However, the tribunal also declared, by a 3:2 majority, that the marines are entitled to immunity, and prevented India from exercising its jurisdiction over them.
The court also ruled that India must end criminal proceedings in its courts against the two marines. The tribunal said this was based on Italy’s promise that it would try Latorre and Girone in its courts.
India and Italy had taken the case to the international court in 2015. The main bone of contention between the two countries was Italy’s assertion that India cannot try the marines, as the crime was committed outside Indian territorial waters. India has rejected the claim of the shooting taking place in international waters.