Welcoming Italy's decision to send back marines charged with the killing of two fishermen, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Friday said the development clearly established the fact that no country can question the sovereignty of India.
Making a statement in the assembly, Chandy, whose Congress-led United Democratic Front government came under attack from the Left Democratic Front Opposition over the earlier decision of Italy not to send back the marines, said the Supreme Court order restraining the Italian ambassador from leaving the country was a rare action.
"I am taking this opportunity to express gratitude to the Supreme Court, the Centre and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the firm stand they took on the issue," he said.
Referring to the notice for the adjournment moved earlier this week in the assembly by the Opposition, blaming the Centre and the state governments for letting the marines leave the country, Chandy said, "The opposition even dragged the name of All India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi into the matter".
He recalled that on that day itself he, after talking to the prime minister, declared that the marines would be brought back to face trial.
"The prime minister had assured that the diplomatic route would be used to bring the marines back," he said, adding, "The Centre was also of the view that diplomatic immunity was not a mechanism to challenge the sovereignty and judiciary of a country".
The Supreme Court had on February 22 allowed the marines of Enrica Lexie ship Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girnone to go to Italy for four weeks to vote in the election in their country based on the assurance of the Italian ambassador that they would return to India in the stipulated time.
Last week, Italy informed India that the marines, charged with the murder of two fishermen off Kollam coast in February 2012, would not return to India to face trial, triggering protests and outrage in the state.