- Centre said Italy had assured it would criminally prosecute the marines
- But the court said the fishermen's families must be compensated first
- "Bring cheques and the relatives of victims here," said the Chief Justice
The case against two Italian marines who shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala cost in 2012 will be closed only when Italy compensates the families of the victims, the Supreme Court said today. "Let Italy pay them compensation. Only then will we allow the withdrawal of prosecution," Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
The centre, requesting the top court to let it withdraw the cases following the decision of a UN tribunal, said Italy had assured it would criminally prosecute the marines.
But the court said the fishermen's families must be compensated first. "Bring the cheques and the relatives of victims here," said the Chief Justice. The court has asked the centre to file an application making the families party to the case within a week.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) recently ruled that the Italian marines enjoy immunity, so they cannot be tried by Indian Courts. But the UN tribunal said India is entitled to compensation "in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of the fishing boat that came under fire, St. Antony".
The Supreme Court said it would need to hear the victims' families before allowing the cases to be withdrawn.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the court that Italy, in a letter, said both the marines would be criminally prosecuted and the maximum compensation will be paid to the families.
The two Italian marines are accused of killing two unarmed Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012. The marines had appealed in the Supreme Court against the Kerala High Court's decision that the marines could be prosecuted in Kerala.
In March 2017, the Supreme Court directed India and the marines to place on record the proceedings of the Arbitral Tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).