SC allows marines to cast vote in Italy

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2011, to travel to their country in order to cast their votes in the general elections.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, however, pulled up the Centre for its failure to set up a special court to try the marines as per the apex court’s January 18 direction. “Why the Centre is dragging its feet? Nobody has made any attempt for consultation for setting up the court,” it said.

The court granted Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone permission to go to Italy for four weeks to exercise their franchise in elections slated to be held on February 24 and 25, relying upon an affidavit filed by Italian ambassador stating that there was no provision of postal ballot there.

Further, the court asked how long would it take to set up a special court. “If the court would have been set up, the trial in the case could have been over. Why it is late? It would have by now decided whether they are guilty or not,” the bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen, said.

The court’s observations came after Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, appearing for the Centre, submitted that steps were being taken to constitute the special court.

In their application, the marines contended that the investigation carried out against them in the last one year has been found to be “illegal” with the apex court ruling that Kerala had no jurisdiction in the matter.

The apex court had, in its ruling, dismissed Italy’s plea to quash all criminal proceedings in view of lack of jurisdiction.

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