Indian government draws flak for ASG's submission in Italian ship case

Kerala state government may or may not have a jurisdiction to detain Enrica Lexie, the real question is why then the Centre has not started investigations about the killing on its own

Thiruvananthapuram: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre has come under sharp attack from various quarters in Kerala over additional solicitor general (ASG) Harin Raval's submission in the Supreme Court that Italian ship Enrica Lexie was not within Indian territorial waters when the marines aboard it had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen on 15th February, reports PTI.

Seizing on the development, the critics said ASG's submission amounted to reinforcing Italy's assertion that Indian courts had no jurisdiction to try the case since the alleged incident happened when the ship was in international waters.

The family of the deceased fisherman Valentine Jalastine, the Latin Catholic Church and fishery unions have expressed shock and anguish at the position taken by the Centre's legal officer when the case came up for consideration in the apex court yesterday.

The ruling Congress-led UDF in the state also found itself in a bind as ASG's submission contradicted the stand of the government headed by Oommen Chandy which firmly held that India has every legal competence to try the case under its law.

Reacting to the development, Mr Chandy who was in New Delhi yesterday, said he would bring the matter to the notice of the Central leaders as the state had always taken the position that the victims should receive justice.

The ruling front leaders, who were the target of attack from the opposition, however, drew some solace from the clarification issued by the Ministry of Shipping later in the evening that the views expressed by Harin Raval were his personal opinion.

Spearheading the no-holds-barred attack on the Centre, CPI(M) stalwart VS Achuthanandan said the submission made by ASG was nothing short of a betrayal of the country and people.

In their statements, leaders of various other opposition parties made veiled digs at the Congress president and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi over the development and accused the state government of playing a double game.

Reacting to the development, family members of the slain fisherman Jalastine termed the ASG's submission in the apex court as "cruel".

Doramma and Derirk Valentine, the deceased fisherman's wife and son, respectively, said in Kollam that it was difficult for them to understand as how the Centre could taken such a U-turn in the case after expressing solidarity with the bereaved families.

Slamming the Centre's position, Archbishop Soosai Packyan of Latin Catholic community, to which both the murdered fishermen belonged, said he was at a loss to know as to why the Centre had taken such a position in the case.

Talking to reporters, the Archbishop said it was the duty of the central and state governments to ensure that the kin of victims received justice.

The two fishermen were killed when the marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Gironi allegedly fired at their boat off Kollam coast. They were arrested on 19th February and charged with murder.

According to a notification of the Government of India, anything that happens beyond 12 nautical miles on the west coast comes under the jurisdiction of the Yellow Gate police station in Mumbai. The jurisdiction lies in Mumbai as it has an admiralty court.


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Market indecisive: Weekly Market Report

The Nifty has to break the range of 5,230 and 5,340 for further direction

The market settled higher this week following the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) 50 basis point (bps) cut in key rates earlier this week. The benchmarks, which settled in the positive on four trading days, closed lower on the last trading day of the week.

Gains in rate-sensitive sectors helped the market brush aside early nervousness associated with the March inflation numbers and close in the green on Monday. A boost from the RBI’s 50 bps rate cut helped the market extend its gains on Tuesday. A lower opening of the European indices saw the domestic indices paring their gains, but the market managed a positive close on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the market treaded water till noon but received a boost in the second half with positive cues from Europe, settling in the green for the fourth day in a row. The benchmarks witnessed a sharp fall in the second half of trade on Friday, but the loss was reduced as the indices bounced back from their lows.

Overall, the market settled 2% higher with the Sensex climbing 279 points at 17,374 and the Nifty closing the week at 5,291, a gain of 83 points. The market is expected to remain range-bound with the Nifty having to break the range of 5,230 and 5,340 for further direction.

BSE Auto (up 6%) and BSE Metal (up 3%) were the top sectoral gainers in the week. There were no losers in the sectoral space.

Tata Motors (up 10%), Coal India (up 7%), Hero MotoCorp (up 6%), Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra (up 5% each) were the key gainers on the Sensex. The losers were BHEL (down 5%), Reliance Industries (down 3%) and NTPC (down 1%).

The top Nifty performers were Tata Motors (up 9%), Coal India (up 7%), Hero MotoCorp, HCL Technologies (up 6% each) and Maruti Suzuki (up 5%). BHEL (down 5%), IDFC, Reliance Industries, ACC (down 3% each) and Ambuja Cements (down 1%) were the key losers on the index.

On Tuesday, the RBI, in its annual credit policy, surprised everyone by cutting the repo rate and bank rate by 50 bps. This is the first time after a gap of three years that the central bank has reduced repo rates. The reduction in the repo rate is based on an assessment of growth having slowed below its post-crisis trend rate which, in turn, is contributing to a moderation in core inflation, the RBI said. The cut is expected to reduce cost of home, auto and corporate loans.

With crude oil and gold alone accounting for over 44% of total import bill of $489 billion and exports losing steam mid-way, India ended the fiscal 2011-12 with the highest ever trade deficit of $185 billion causing a ‘serious’ challenge for the economy. Exports touched $303.7 billion for the just-concluded fiscal registering 21% expansion. The situation on widening trade deficit can go worse in the current fiscal, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said, adding exports would need to grow 28% to maintain even the present position.

Among corporates, private sector lender HDFC Bank reported 30.4% jump in net profit at Rs1,453.10 crore for the January-March quarter compared to Rs1,114.70 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal. The main drivers of increase in profit were better than system loan growth, stable margin and improvement in asset quality, HDFC Bank executive director Paresh Sukhtankar told reporters. Total income of the bank rose 32.1% to Rs8,880 crore in the reporting quarter, from Rs6,724.30 crore in the year-ago period.

Oil and gas major Reliance Industries reported a 21.2% drop in net profit to Rs 4,236 crore for the quarter ended 31 March 2012 compared to Rs5,376 crore in the year-ago period. Global recession coupled with lower refining margins have led to a dip in profits, the company said. In the reporting quarter, RIL reported a gross refining margin of $7.6 for every barrel of crude oil it processed, compared with $9.2 in the corresponding year-ago period.

The decline in net profit in the quarter was arrested by a near 150% rise in other income to Rs2,295 crore (Rs917 crore in Q4-FY2011) and the lower tax outgo.

Earnings news, economic data and concerns about the European debt crisis is expected to drive the global markets next week.


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