The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Italian ambassador and restrained him from leaving the country without its permission, taking exception to Italian government's refusal to send back marines charged with the killing of two fishermen.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also issued notice to the two marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, who were allowed by the apex court to go to Italy to cast their vote in the elections there after Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini had given an assurance to send them back.
The bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen, passed the order after it was brought to its notice that the Republic of Italy has reneged on its assurance given to the apex court.
Attorney General (AG) G E Vahanvati brought the issue before the bench, saying that "it’s a breach of undertaking given to the highest court of the land and the government is extremely concerned about it".
After hearing the AG's submission, the bench issued notices to the ambassador and the two marines and asked them to file their response by March 18.
The bench further said that if notice is not served to the marines, who are right now in Italy, then it will be served through the Italian ambassador.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on coming Monday after the AG pleaded for an urgent hearing on this issue. The two marines were on board Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie', when they shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, last year.
The two accused marines were allowed by the apex court on February 22 to travel to Italy for four weeks under the control and custody of the Italian ambassador, to cast their ballot in the elections scheduled there for February 24-25.
The court had said that the marines are only allowed to travel to Italy and remain there and will have to return to India. The Italian government, which had given an undertaking before the apex court that the marines will be sent back, had on March 11 sent a 'Note Verbale' to the Indian government informing it that the two will not be sent back.
Earlier, on January 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case and had held that the two marines should be tried by the Centre by constituting a special court to conduct their trial.
It had directed that the two be shifted to Delhi and would remain under it's 'custody' till the special court is set up. The court had said that the Kerala government did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute the two foreign marines and it is to be done by the Centre in the special court to be set up after consulting the CJI.
The court had also said that all the conditions imposed on them by the Kerala court, while granting them bail will remain till the special court is set up and the marines will mark their presence at least once a week before Chanakyapuri police station.
Image: Italian envoy Daniele Mancini