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Supreme Court Quashes Criminal Cases Against Italian Marines In Enrica Lexie Case Accepting Compensation

Srishti Ojha
15 Jun 2021 5:20 AM GMT
Supreme Court Quashes Criminal Cases Against Italian Marines In Enrica Lexie Case Accepting Compensation
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Accepting the compensation of Rupees 10 crores deposited by the Republic of Italy, the Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the criminal proceedings pending in India against against two Italian Marines -Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - with respect to the 2012 sea-firing incident near Kerala coast which killed two Indian fishermen. The Court has directed the transfer of the amount of...

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Accepting the compensation of Rupees 10 crores deposited by the Republic of Italy, the Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the criminal proceedings pending in India against against two Italian Marines -Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - with respect to the 2012 sea-firing incident near Kerala coast which killed two Indian fishermen.

The Court has directed the transfer of the amount of Rupees 10 crores - deposited with the Supreme Court Registry - to the High Court of Kerala.

The top court requested the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court to nominate a Judge to pass appropriate order of disbursement to protect interest of heirs & ensure it's recieved by them.

The Bench that noted Owner of damaged Boat, Union of India, State of Kerala and heirs of deceased have agreed to accept the award.

"We are satisfied that the amount of 10 crores over and above ex gratia already submitted can be said to be a reasonable amount of compensation and in interest of heirs. We are of the view that this is a fit case to close all proceedings in India including criminal proceedings, in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. FIR 2/2012 quashed and set aside, and all proceedings therefrom are quashed", the bench said.

The Supreme Court also observed that Republic of Italy should resume its criminal proceedings against the Marines in Italy in terms of the international award, and that Government of Republic of Italy, UOI and Kerala government should coordinate with each other in respect to disbursement of compensation.

A vacation bench comprising Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice MR Shah passed the order in an application filed by the Central Government to quash the criminal proceedings pending in India against the marines.

Taking note of the deposit of Rupees 10 crores compensation made by the Republic of Italy, the Supreme Court had on Friday reserved its orders on the application.

During the hearing, the bench had expressed concerns about how to apportion and disburse the compensation. It had also observed that it might order the transfer of the Rs.10 crores compensation to the High Court of Kerala to decide the apportionment of the amount among the victims and its disbursement.

The Supreme Court had on April 9th 2021 observed that the criminal cases pending in India against the two Italian Marines in the Enrica Lexie case will be closed only after the Republic of Italy deposits the compensation agreed to be paid to the victims of sea firing incident of 2012.

The Court had directed the Republic of Italy to deposit the compensation amount in terms of the award of the international tribunal in the account specified by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry was asked to deposit the same before the Supreme Court, within a week of receiving such amount from the Italy Government.

The Centre had previously told the Supreme Court that according to the ruling of Permanent Court if Arbitration under the United Nations Convention On Law of Seas, India has no jurisdiction to launch criminal prosecution against the Italian Marines over the sea-firing incident. Therefore, the Solicitor General had requested the Supreme Court to quash the cases invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, as the trial court cannot act on the international award.

In July last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration(PCA) under the United Nations Convention of Law of Seas had ruled that India was entitled to claim compensation from Italy for the death of Indian fishermen. However, the International Tribunal also held that India has no jurisdiction to launch criminal prosecution against the Marines as they had sovereign immunity.

Following that, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that it was accepting the award of the PCA and sought to quash the pending cases against the Marines.

In August last year, the Supreme Court had told the Centre that the cases will not be quashed without hearing the families of victims.

The incident happened on Febraury 15, 2012, at a distance of about 20.5 nautical miles from the Kerala coastline. A fishing boat 'St Antony' happened to pass "Erica Lexie", a tanker flying the Italian Flag. Two marines aboard the ship - Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - mistook 'St Antony' for a pirate boat, and opened fire at it. This resulted in the death of two fishermen - Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki.

Also Read  - Dramatic Twists Of Enrica Lexie-Italian Marines Case : A Time Line Of 9 Years

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