The Centre today dropped stringent anti-piracy charges against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012, sparing them possible death penalty in a move aimed at defusing a diplomatic row between the two countries.
The government argued in court that the National Investigation Agency or NIA should continue to investigate the case, another point that had been challenged by Italy.
Italy had move court on January 15 apprehending that the NIA would prosecute the marines under anti-terror laws, which carry the death penalty.
The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, claim they mistook the fishermen for pirates while guarding a cargo ship in 2012 off the coast of Kerala.
Rome has expressed its disappointment over the slow pace of trial. Last week, Italy recalled its ambassador to India to register its protest.
Italian authorities have also lobbied the European Union and the United Nations saying the duo should be tried in their home country, claiming that the shooting incident took place in international waters.
New Delhi denies this, saying that the fishermen were killed in Indian waters.
The marines are on bail pending trial, and are living and working at the Italian Embassy in Delhi.