India: Govt vs SC over Italian marines row

Nagendar Sharma

The government does not agree with the Supreme Court’s view that the two Italian marines can raise the issue of whether a UN convention allows Indian courts to conduct their trial before a special court, but it is unlikely to seek a review of the apex court judgment.

The home ministry wants a review of the Supreme Court’s January 18 order, which according to it left the “issue of jurisdiction open” and gave the two marines the liberty to raise it before the special court, but the law ministry does not favour this move.

The government’s legal arm, however, has agreed with the home ministry’s contention that article 100 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, referred to by the Supreme Court to allow the marines to raise the issue of jurisdiction of Indian courts does not apply to this case.


“Article 100 of the UN convention provides that all states shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside its jurisdiction, but this alleged offence was committed within India’s contiguous zone” the law ministry stated.

“The United Nations convention does not apply and the present case squarely falls within the domain of the Indian Penal Code, Maritime safety and Territorial Safety Laws of India,” it noted.

On the review petition, the law ministry opined :“Review is not a routine procedure and is not permissible unless the court is satisfied that a material error may have resulted in miscarriage of justice… A review may affect the merits of the case.”

It has advised the home ministry to raise the issue before the special court being set-up for the trial.

“In case the ministry will not be satisfied with its decision on jurisdiction, it will be at liberty to appeal in higher courts,” the law ministry noted.


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