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SC seeks Centre, Kerala's replies on Italy's plea

April 23, 2012 16:17 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre and the Kerala government on the Italian government's plea to quash criminal cases filed against two of its naval personnel on board Italian vessel Enrica Lexie for the killing of two Indian fishermen.

A three-judge bench of justices Altamas Kabir, S S Nijjar and Ranjan Gogoi sought replies within two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on May 8.

In its petition filed under Article 32, the Italian government asserted that the Kerala government has no locus standi to register any criminal case. The alleged offence ought to be treated under international law and covenants as India is a signatory to the United Nations charter, it said.

Appearing for the Italian government, senior counsel Harish Salve told the bench that the matter needs to be dealt with by the two countries. The Kerala government had no jurisdiction in interfering with the matter as the incident had occurred in "contigual waters" 12 nautical miles beyond the Indian jurisdiction, he said.

He said the action of the Italian personnel was part of their official duty.

"It is an act of official duty and the Republic of Italy takes full responsibility of it," Salve said and maintained that they cannot be subjected to domestic laws.

Initially the court wondered whether it can entertain the writ petition filed by the Italian government for the enforcement of its fundamental rights.

Article 32 is invoked by a person for enforcement of his/her fundamental rights.

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