The Hon’ble Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the pending criminal cases against the two Italian Marines Involved in the Enrica-Lexie Case After taking note of the Compensation of RS. 10 Crores deposited by the Republic of Italy. The sea-firing incident which took place on February 15, 2012, in India’s international waters off the Kerala coast has resulted in the death of two Indian Fishermen on the boat St. Antony by the two Italian Marines aboard the Italian commercial oil tanker “Enrica Lexie.”
In July 2020, the International Court for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), established under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has held that India was entitled to claim compensation from Italy for the loss of life and damage caused by the Republic of Italy. The Tribunal further debarred India from exercising its jurisdiction over the incident upholding sovereign immunity of the Italian Marines.
Earlier, the Centre after accepting the award had told the Hon’ble Supreme Court that India has no jurisdiction to take action against the Marines in light of the Order given by the Tribunal and requested to close the pending cases against them.
However, in August 2020, the Hon’ble Court observed that cases will not be closed without hearing the families of the victims and on April 9, 2021, said that pending cases will be quashed only after the Italy Government deposits the agreed compensation to be paid to the victims of the sea-firing incident.
“We are satisfied the amount of 10 Crores rupees already deposited can be said to be a reasonable amount of compensation and in the interest of heirs. We are of the view that this is a fit case to close all proceedings in India including criminal proceedings, in the exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. Fir 2/2012 quashed and set aside and all proceedings therefrom are quashed,” the Hon’ble Court said. The Hon’ble Court further observed that the Republic of Italy should initiate the trial against the Marines in Italy in terms of the international Award.
The Hon’ble vacation Bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice MR Shah has pronounced the Order to close the criminal proceedings against the Italian Marines and also directed the transfer of the compensation amount to the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala for disbursement of compensation among the victims.