Two Italian marines, who are facing murder charges in Kerala, are all set to go home for two weeks for Christmas, with the Centre in principle taking a decision to allow them to travel following a high court order.
Only the 'processes' are left which includes signing of the final clearance order by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, but in principle it has been decided that they will be allowed to travel back home for two weeks, official sources said on Friday.
Asked if the stand taken by the government was 'soft', Khurshid said, "We took a very responsible and objective stand when asked by the court. We could not have taken any other stand. If a foreign government and its foreign minister presents a document, a request and a guarantee to the court of our country, we can hardly say don't take it seriously".
"On merits, the court has to decide. We are no one to decide and nor should we be deciding. If we had to decide, the matter would not have gone to court," he said.
He also said if India had not taken this stand, it would have been in violation of the international understanding.
The marines -- Latore Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone -- are facing trial for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off Alapuzha coast on February 15. They were permitted by the Kerala high court on Thursday to go home for two weeks.
The marines were arrested on February 19.
Disposing of the petition by the marines, Justice P Bhavadasan said that the bail conditions can be modified if the Union government feels the undertaking by the Italian ambassador and Italian consul general are acceptable and travel documents can be issued to them.
The court said they can leave India and remain in Italy for two weeks from the date of their departure. They have to return to India before 3 pm on January 10.
Their passports can be released on production of necessary travel documents for exit and re-entry and on filing of an unconditional undertaking that they would return to India and surrender their passports at 3 pm on January 10, it said.