The Supreme Court on Friday said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will continue to probe the case of two Italian Marines accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012.
The apex court said a special court will conduct day-to-day proceedings against the two Italian Marines-Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, adding that no other case would be attended to by the court.
While the Indian Government has maintained that the killing of the Keral fishermen does not fall under the rarest of rare cases, the Italian Government is concerned that its two marines could be sentenced to death if convicted under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA), 2002.
In that context, Rome moved the apex court after the two security detail were booked under the SUA and investigation was entrusted to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
In the course of the last hearing of the case April 16, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi had assailed the NIA for invoking the SUA, under which, he noted, "death is answered by death"." The SUA has a mandatory death penalty, he said.
Section 3(g)(1) of the SUA says that the offender who causes death to any person, (he) shall be punished with death. The section deals with the offences against ship, fixed platform, cargo of a ship, maritime navigational facilities, etc. and provides for punishments.
On Feb 15, 2012, the two marines, posted on security duty aboard an Italian-registered oil tanker, Enrica Lexie, mistaking a boat of fishermen for pirates, shot and killed two Indian fishermen, Ajay Binki and Gelastine.
The incident occurred about 20.5 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala.
The case was initially tried in Kerala.
The Italians have been contesting the jurisdiction of Indian courts in the matter, saying the incident occurred in international waters.
The trial then shifted to the apex court, which has now deferred its judgment twice. (ANI with inputs)