The Hon’ble Supreme Court on Friday reserved orders on quashing of criminal proceedings against two Italian marines after considering the deposit of Rs.10 crores made by the Republic of Italy towards compensation to be paid to the victims in the Enrica Lexi- St.Antony Case. The incident is related to two Italian marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone boarded on the Italian commercial oil tanker Enrica-lexie, killing two Indian fishermen, Ajeesh Pink and Valentine Jelastine who were on the fishing boat St.Antony on February 15, 2012, in India’s Contiguous Zone, 20.5 Nautical miles near the Kerala coast.
In July 2020, the Hon’ble International Court for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), established under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), held that the marines were entitled to immunity relating to the sea-firing incident and India is precluded from exercising its jurisdiction over the incident. It was meant to refrain both the countries from initiating court proceedings to prevent aggravating the dispute and to implement the award given by the Tribunal. Further, the Tribunal holding Italy guilty also said that India is entitled to compensation for the loss of life and material damage to property caused by Italy,
Accepting the award given by the Tribunal, the centre informed the same to the Hon’ble Supreme Court and requested to quash the pending criminal cases against the perpetrators.
However, in August 2020, the Hon’ble Court stated that cases will not be closed without hearing the families of the victims and further on April 9, observed that the pending cases will be quashed only after the Italy government deposits the compensation agreed to be paid to victims of the sea-firing incident. Consequently, the compensation was deposited in the specified account of the Ministry of External Affairs by the Republic of Italy and as per the directions of the Hon’ble court, the said amount was deposited before the Hon’ble Court by the centre. Informing the same before the Hon’ble Court, the Solicitor General of India Mr. Tushar Mehta, requested to close the pending cases invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution stating that the Trial Court cannot act on International Award.
The Hon’ble Division Bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee and Hon’ble Justice MR Shah was hearing the application filed by the government to close the pending cases. Expressing concern about how the compensation will be disbursed, the Hon’ble Apex Court said it would transfer the compensation amount to the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala to decide the apportionment of the amount among the victims and its disbursement.
The reserved order will be pronounced on Thursday.