Supreme Court closes case against Italian marines for killing Indian fishermen; compensation announced

PTI
New Delhi Published: Jun 15, 2021, 10:07 PM(IST)

A file picture of Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L). Photograph:( AFP )

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The top court noted that Kerala, the heirs of the deceased fishermen and the owner of the boat have agreed to accept the award.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday brought the curtain down on nine-year old criminal proceedings that were initiated in India against two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, after Rs 10 core in compensation was paid by Italy to the heirs of the deceased and the boat owner.

The apex court also said that as per the international arbitral award accepted by India, Italy shall resume further investigation in the case against the marines -- Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone.

"We are of the view that this is a fit case to close all the proceedings in India including criminal proceedings in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India," a vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and M R Shah said while quashing the FIR registered at Coastal Police Station of Neendakara, Kollam in Kerala and re-registered by NIA in 2013 and all the proceedings emanating from the case.

It closed the case considering the fact that the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of UNCLOS has delivered its award dated May 21, 2020 under which the Republic of Italy has agreed to pay the compensation of Rs 10 crore, over and above the amount of ex-gratia amount already paid.

"We also further direct that the amount of Rs 10 crore now lying with the Registry of this Court be transferred to the High Court of Kerala, out of which Rs 4 crore be paid to the heirs of each deceased and Rs 2 crores be paid to the owner of the boat - St. Antony," the bench said.

It requested the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court to nominate a judge to pass appropriate order of disbursement/investment of the amount to be paid to the heirs of each deceased (Rs 4 crore each) so as to protect the interest of the heirs and ensure that the compensation is duly received by the heirs and not diverted/misappropriated.

"The order of disbursement/investment be passed after hearing the heirs of each deceased and appropriate order be passed, protecting the best interest of the heirs of each deceased. The remaining amount of Rs 2 crore be paid to the owner of the boat - St. Antony by an account payee cheque," the bench said.

The top court noted that Kerala, the heirs of the deceased fishermen and the owner of the boat have agreed to accept the award.

The top court said that Rs 10 crore, deposited pursuant to the award passed by the Arbitral Tribunal can be said to be a "reasonable" amount of compensation and can be said to be in the interest of heirs of the deceased.

The top court said that while disbursing the compensation to the heirs of the deceased fishermen, that is Rs 4 crores to the dependents/heirs of each deceased, their interest is also required to be protected so that the amount of compensation paid to them is not frittered away, by investing the amount in the name of the dependents/heirs of each deceased in a fixed deposit in a nationalised bank for some time and they will be paid the periodical interest accrued thereon.

The top court also discharged the bail-bonds executed on June 2, 2012, by Latorre and Girone in connection with the FIR before the Patiala House court here and registrar general of the top court.

It also disposed of all the petitions pending before the top court.

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