SC notice to Centre on marines' plea to go home

FP

Asserting that the investigation carried out against them during the last one year has been found to be "illegal", two Italian marines — accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February last year — have approached the Supreme Court to travel back to their country for four weeks.

In their application, marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have said that if allowed to travel, they would be able to exercise their franchise in the general election in Italy on February 24 and 25.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir sought a response from the Centre on their application and posted the matter for hearing on Friday.

The Bench, in its judgment last month, had affirmed India's jurisdiction to try the marines, underlining a criminal act cannot be said to be an "incident of navigation". It said they will be tried in a special court to be set up by the government after consultation with the CJI, while dismissing Italy's plea to quash all criminal proceedings in view of lack of jurisdiction by any state in India to make its marines stand the murder trial. The court, which held that Kerala had no jurisdiction to try them, said the two marines will be shifted to Delhi and considered to be in the custody of the Supreme Court till the Centre constitutes the special court.

Appearing for the marines, advocate Harish Salve requested for a propitious order from the Bench so that they could return to their home for four weeks and also enable them cast their votes. The Bench cited a statement by former Italy Prime Minister that they could vote by writing as well and sought a clarification from the lawyer. Salve differed with the contention and said there was no postal ballot in Italy. He submitted that the marines had visited their home on a previous occasion and returned to face legal proceedings, as promised.

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