Marines’ escape: No point blaming Italy

Marines’ escape: No point blaming Italy

Marines’ escape: No point blaming Italy

The nationwide sensation created by the transitional Italian Government’s move to help two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, dodge the Indian justice system calls into question the pivotal role played by the Supreme Court in handling bail / parole applications in sensitive cases.

A discernible pattern of pick and choose is visible. Thus, bail has been denied to all accused in the Malegaon 2008 bomb blasts case, including the cancer-ridden Sadhvi Pragya, but granted to journalist Syed Kazmi in the Israeli diplomat car bomb case despite application of the Unlawful Activities Act where there is no bail under Section 43D.

What is pertinent in this sordid episode is that the two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki of Tamil Nadu and Valentine aka Gelastine of Kerala, were shot dead on February 15, 2012, while fishing off the Kerala coast within the Indian Contiguous Zone. The two Marines of the Italian Navy Vessel Protection Detachment on board oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie claimed they mistook the fishermen for pirates!

This is unacceptable for the simple reason that pirates will not operate so close to the Indian coast, and because the Italian ship, which was sailing from Singapore to Egypt, should have been on the open ocean, hundreds of miles away from the Indian coastline. Their very presence in Indian waters was suspicious, but went unquestioned by Indian authorities.

However, the ship was intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard and two men suspected of involvement in the shooting arrested. After nearly four months in judicial custody, the duo was released under strict bail conditions and assurances from the Italian Government that they would remain available to answer charges before Indian courts.

Then, in an astonishing display of magnanimity, the Supreme Court allowed the duo a two-week vacation to go home to celebrate Christmas! On this first trip outside India, they returned as per promise in January 2013.

Thereafter, the Supreme Court again allowed the Marines a four-week vacation to vote in the Italian election! It accepted a facile plea by the Italian Ambassador that there was no postal ballot in their country, whereas a simple Google search would expose this lie. In any case, they need not have voted at all. It boggles the mind that persons facing murder charges should be allowed to hop and skip around the globe in such a whimsical manner.

The Supreme Court was aware that the Union Government had not, despite its direction on January 18, 2013, set up a special court to try the Marines. Having ruled that the Kerala court had no jurisdiction to prosecute the Marines, the apex court should have ensured the setting up of a special court by giving the Government a deadline in the matter.

When the Marines’ application came up for final hearing on February 22, Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising admitted she did not know if the process for consultation with the CJI for setting up the special court had begun. The CJI headed the bench hearing the appeal, accepted the Italian Ambassador’s undertaking that the Marines would return to India within four weeks, and allowed them to go to Italy on temporary travel documents as their passports had not been received by the Union Home Ministry after being mailed by the trial court in Kerala.

Thus, a bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil Dave and Vikramjit Sen ordered, “The two petitioners will be entitled to travel to Italy and to return to India on the basis of temporary passport or travel documents and the Ministry of Home Affairs shall direct the Foreigners Regional Registration Office to provide entry visas on the said temporary travel documents.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, shall also inform the authorities of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, including the Bureau of Immigration and the Central Industrial Security Force concerned of this order.”

Why was the judiciary so solicitous towards persons accused in a murder case? Why did it fail to lay down stringent conditions to ensure the Marines came back, as the Kerala High Court had done previously, including execution of a Rs 6 crore bank guarantee?

India has many foreign prisoners, both under trial and convicted. Yet this rare privilege of home visits in quick succession is not extended to any of them. Supposing Pakistani prisoners request home leave to celebrate Eid?

Senior Kerala Police officials, who naturally do not wish to be identified, are blaming the Union Government and the judiciary in letting the Marines escape. Working under enormous political and diplomatic pressure, the police had managed to arrest the two men, seize the rifles involved in the shooting, and file an FIR, all of which has now gone to waste.

There can be no doubt that Italy is at fault. Rome accepted Indian jurisdiction when it sought parole for Christmas, which means it waived Italian jurisdiction under Article 92 of the UNCLOS. The plea for the second vacation was clearly a ploy to enable the men to flee the country.

It is impossible not to recall India’s experience in handling the case of Bofors kickbacks accused Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was allowed to leave India when his presence became embarrassing for the Congress president, and then scuttle his detention under an Interpol red corner notice.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are the author's personal opinions. Information, facts or opinions shared by the Author do not reflect the views of Niti Central and Niti Central is not responsible or liable for the same. The Author is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

  • Bharati

    Are not two of these three judges abrahamists? They would understandably be appreciative of the Italian connection!

  • Nirguna

    Great article except that it conveniently ignores up Dr Swamy role. May be Gujarat corporate tie up is stopping to write two sentences it seems

    • Sakshi

      What does Dr Swamy have to do with this piece on the role played by the judiciary in granting parole so freely to Italians accused of murder? Some people crib for the sake of finding fault.

  • S. Kumar

    Will the spineless, corrupt and colluding Sonia government have the guts to even expel this Italian ambassador who gave a solemn written undertaking to our naive and silly Supreme Court? Our government and Supreme Court (or fool) have made our country a laughing stock in the world, let alone the point of delivering justice to the families of the murdered fishermen.

  • Net Hindu

    We are the perpetual Julams (गुलाम), गुलामी-is in our blood it comes naturally to us.
    Google: “Italian Marine Case: India The Soft. India The Gullible.”

  • Naveen

    Manmohan singh’s reaction: “lets not play cricket with them..”
    Raul Gandhi “Amma said Italians wont play cricket..”
    Manmohan singh: “So ask her what we can play with them..?, I will deny the same”
    Raul ” You need not worry, they are already playing with our nation using mumma, Quattrocchi & yes…now with these 2 mariners !!!”

  • SportyHarry

    Will some one in the Govt. (this wretched Congress dispensation) and judiciary own up for some responsibility ? Will heads roll ? It normally does – if such blunders are committed by lesser mortals. Are Politicians, ministers & Judges above accountability ?
    Ever since Congress has been ruling govts. since 1947, they only take credits for good work done by others – never for the blunders they commit. Hope the people make these bas*ards & bit*hes in this govt. to pay very dearly in 2014, once and for all.

  • mayank

    This was a simple plan:
    1. let the guys go home.
    2. allow / request Italians not to return them.
    3. break diplomatic ties.
    4. Italy then will not be bound to share information on the chopper scam.
    5. “the family” and “closed circuit” people saved for lack of evidence.
    6. people forget.

    this is not new

    1. quattrochi
    2. puralia arms drop case
    3. union carbide.

    more to come if the allegiance of “the family” continues and “it ” continues to dominate indian polity.

    Shame on you India.

  • M Patel

    Indian Italian cover-up and drama:

    Would any supreme court give a 4 week bail to murder suspect, for a trip to foreign country, to exercise vote? It defies common-sense. There is only 3 possibilities:
    1) Judge is not independent. He or She is party to secret understanding between Indian & Italian Government. Perhaps that is the reason prosecution did not strongly object to permission. This has happened before in case of Union Carbide’s Bhopal disaster which killed thousands, and Bofors case involving another Italian.
    2) Judge is corrupt.
    3) Judge is an idiot (not likely).

    It’s time Indians wake up and stop treating Supreme Court as fiercely Independent God because judges are human with post-retirement need for Chairmanships, Lokayuta, civilian awards and prices which only India’s Nehruvian establishment can give them.

  • reader

    I am not familiar with Dr Swamy’s role. Nirguna, can u please post the details.

  • Who Cares

    There is no doubt in my mind that this is nothing more then a sham. The Italian authorities have bribed the required set of people in the government including the Indian judiciary. And now everyone is doing play acting as if something unplanned happened. This is an orchestrated event. Corruiption has seeped into every nook and cranny of India.

  • Murthy

    This is an ‘Italian job’, contrary to what the headline says. It is possible the Italian ambassador had ‘advisors’ within the Indian government, just as Mr. Q may have had in making good his escape along with his commission monies.

    Congress governments are very good at ‘shadow boxing’, as indeed, the 2G episode shows.

    The legal muddle in this case, I would have thought, is all the more reason for denying bail to the marines until there was clarification.. OR if the Supreme Court took the opposite view that it would be unfair to keep them in remand for too long, then RELEASE THEM ON BAIL WITHIN INDIA in a HALF-WAY HOUSE under the control of the INDIAN POLICE but with sufficient access to the under-trial prisoner’s relations, friends and of course, their nation’s ambassador.

    As the author has said, the marines killing the two Indian fishermen so close to the Indian coast and then their ship RUNNING AWAY are BOTH VERY SERIOUS matters IN LAW, MORALITY AND DECENCY.

    Sadly, where white foreigners are involved, Indian courts and judges do show ‘extra’ considerations of nicety…. without realising that where Indians appear before courts in their countries, the opposite happens… Indians receive the hardest possible treatment…!!

    In Norway, Indian couples with children were given no concessions for Indian cultural ways when they were jailed for ‘smacking’ their unruly children ….. just one recent example of the point I make.

  • Hindu

    This simply undermines India as a nation.

    This sends a very bad message to the world. Any nation , any person can treat India and Indians like dirt! They can kill ,attack, rob and do anything on the soil and the borders of the nation!Still these culprits will be treated like royals!

    The pictures speaks a lot- no remorse, no shame- they bloody walking with high heads.

    Thank you so much to the UPA govt, CBI, Judiciary system and the police. These guys are so detached!

    Once again thank you so much.

    Destroy us as much as you can ! There are no words to curse you all for what you are doing to the nation and the innocent common people of the nation.

    May it be a terrorist attacks from neighbouring countries, scams, the list goes on and on and on!

    My request to all Indians, next elections if you want a change and want to save the nation , each person has to contribute not just by voting but becoming proactive -go to every corner of the country produce the facts and educate the people so they make right choice and be vigilant so the votes are not bought by distributing alcohol the night before, capture on your mobile any such activities and post it on YouTube.

    Begin now!

    Let us bring the change. If UPA comes back to power then India is finished for ever, there will be no recovery. These guys will become very euphoric and maniac and there will be no end to what they are doing and have done.they will go rampant.

  • Kumar

    Sandhya ji has a valid point here on how the Supreme Court decides on granting bail and whether the Judges record the reasons for doing so. In several cases were find that the Judges observed on the wrong side as in case of denying bail to Sadhvi Pragya or Col. Purohit. Swami Aseemanand the old man denied recording the statement alone with the Judge but in presence of NIA thugs breathing down his shoulder…
    In case of the two Italian murder accused, the Addl Solicitor General, apparently under advice, recommended bail for them to be present for casting their votes in Italian Elections which could very well have been arranged at Delhi Italian Embassy itself. But it appears UPA inner circles already knew the game plan of Italian Govt as past experiences in different issues have shown.
    The case definitely falls under the jurisdiction of Supreme Court and Diplomatic immunity does not apply here. The Embassy accepted jurisdiction when they submitted a sworn affidavit approved by the Italian PM that these criminals would be returned to face the law in India. If the Ambassador has violated the affidavit conditions, he is answerable to the Court and could be brought to the Court for brazen violation of his own affidavit.

  • Gaurang

    I agree with you 100%. This is the stupidest thing. No court in the world (even a Kangaroo court in banana republic) would do this. I think this was more of a plan by the Mother Queen and her poodles. That is why they gave the leave 1st time to show that they will return and the 2nd time they took off. I have never heard of sending a suspect to his/her country for christmas celebration or to vote.

  • Raj Mathur

    India provided Five Star or luxury treatment to the Italians a fault at a time when no other foreign government do it. Italians should have been forced to live in a normal Indian jail instead of providing them luxury stay in India.

    India’s prosecution and the Supreme Court are also at fault in transferring the case from
    Kerala High Court, transferring the Italians under the control of Italian embassy in New Delhi, letting them visit Italy for Christmas vacation and for voting. Will Italy do such things for an Indian jailed in Italy? Not at all.

    In this exercise to impress the Italians, Indian Government and the Supreme Court have not only landed themselves in this dirty mess of their own creation, but have cemented the perception world over of India being a truly banana republic!

  • vasanth

    India is very close to being a banana republic.

  • Madhukar

    Dear Sandhya Ji, Message is clear “Hindu’s cannot be counted on in Hindustan”. Fault lies with Hindus to elect the Foreigner to run their own affairs. It’s only Chanakya, Rana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj and few other who realised the value of the Nation and its subjects ( I am saying Subjects not Hindus)