Italian marines case: SC agrees to close all proceedings, formal order next week

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to close all proceedings against the Italian marines in India, after Rs 10 crore compensation was deposited with the court, for disbursal amongst the family members of two Indian fishermen killed off the Kerala coast in February 2012.

A comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and M.R. Shah said it would pass orders in the matter on June 15.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted the compensation of Rs 10 crore has been deposited with the court and it is up to the Kerala government to decide on apportionment of it.

The counsel for Italian government submitted that criminal proceedings pending before a Delhi court must also be dropped in terms of the award by the international tribunal.

Italian government had offered a compensation of Rs 10 crore, out of which Kerala government proposed to disburse Rs 4 crore, to the dependents of each deceased and Rs 2 crore to the owner of the boat St. Antony.

Mehta submitted before the bench the tribunal held that Italy would reserve the right to prosecute the marines.

“Both the Union of India and government of Kerala have accepted the tribunal’s award”, said Mehta.

The bench pointed out Rs 4 crore isn’t a small amount, and some appropriate measures will have to be taken to ensure the money isn’t wasted.

Mehta responded that money can be deposited in interest-bearing bank accounts for gradual withdrawal and accrual of adequate interest.

The top court suggested that the money can be transferred to the Kerala High Court which can monitor the aspect of disbursement to the families of the victims.

Centre and Italian government counsel urged the top court to close all proceedings and it can formalise the aspect of disbursement in its final order.

The Italian government told the top court that it would prosecute the marines, as per the international tribunal order.

The bench noted that it would pass an order on quashing the pending criminal case against the Italian marines in India.

In February 2012, India had accused the two marines on board the MV Enrica Lexie — an Italian flagged oil tanker — of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).