Italian marines case: SC allows NIA probe, asks special court to conduct daily hearings

The Italian government had raised objection over the case being handed by the National Investigation Agency, saying that the agency has no jurisdiction and pleaded that the case be probed by CBI

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the case against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen and asked the special court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis after the charge-sheet is filed.


A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir clarified that the special court, set up by the Centre for this case, will not take up any other matter and complete the trial as soon as possible.


The bench also comprising Justices AR Dave and Vikramajit Sen said that the two marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone will remain in the custody of the apex court till the completion of the trial.


The Italian government had raised objection over the case being handed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), saying that the agency has no jurisdiction and pleaded that the case be probed by CBI.


The Italian government had approached the apex court, saying that the charges which have been slapped on the marines are not covered by the NIA Act.


Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Italian government, had submitted that NIA can probe the case only if charges under Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002, are also slapped against the marines and the same cannot be done in view of apex court verdict to prosecute them only under IPC, CrPC, Maritime Zones Act and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


The two marines were on board Italian vessel “Enrica Lexie” when they had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on 15th February last year.


Chinese invasion: Can India put an embargo on trade?

India will not command respect if we keep towing the line of least resistance. It is time to put up a firm stand on these matters and consider an embargo on trade until such time China realizes that it can not fool us all the time

India is planning to extend a red carpet (how appropriate!) treatment to the new Chinese Premier, Li Kiqiang, when he arrives next month for a summit meeting with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh. It is his first overseas trip, and Li Kiqiang will attempt to show how serious and sincere China is in dealing with India. He will emphasise the great importance it attaches to this relationship, at least outwardly!


There have been reports of consultation between the giant neighbours on counter-terrorism and the first ever dialogue on Afghanistan.


Across the eastern Ladakh border, however, Chinese troops have moved some 10 km inside the Indian territory and both sides are facing each other at the Line of Actual Control.  Fortunately, no clash has taken place so far, and no injury or death reported, on either side. Flag meetings are said to be in progress.


Apparently, their move was met with no resistance, and Indians were taken by surprise.  This unexpected move by the People's Liberation Army and the flag meetings are expected to produce the stale result of both sides claiming for “status quo”, as the perception of Line of Actual Control would differ.


On the TV news channels, however, it was reported that the Chinese have demanded that Indian troops to dismantle the structures built by them (how long ago, we do not know) as a precondition for talks to resolve the issue amicably!


Foreign ministries on either side are in touch to ensure that this border incursion does not dampen the ensuing visit of the Chinese premier and want to play it down.


In the last few years, ever since the Chinese became a financial super-power house, it has relentlessly attempted to expand its overseas activities, in all fields. Without declaring a war it is at loggerheads with its ASEAN neighbours. It has its navy patrolling the South China and Japanese Seas and has threatened everyone on the Spartleys Island, where it is involved in some construction activities. Other claimants, whether it is the Philippines, Indonesia Malaysia and others have not been able to do anything.


Japan, though has the US support, does not feel as safe as it was before. And China is obviously using its proxy of North Korea to threaten South Korea. It is also eyeing at the possibility of entering Afghanistan when US troops are withdrawn. This is more likely to be a move engineered by Pakistan which is averse to Indian influence in that country.


It must be borne in mind that China is already building an all-weather port in Baluchistan and is fully entrenched in Myanmar. The Chinese expansion policy is slowly, but firmly, enlarging in our neighbourhood, ably and silently supported by Pakistan.


All these are not new.  We watch these moves every day but remain silent spectators.  Should we continue to call Chini-Hindi bhai-bhai or has the time come for boldly saying Hindi-Chini-bye-bye?


According to Oxford English dictionary, Chinese Checkers is a game for two to six players, who try to move the playing pieces from one corner to the opposite corner of the board, which is shaped like a Star. In a similar version, the board is identical to a chess board, where, the coins (similar to carrom coins), are moved, jumping over the opponent's, when he/she leaves an empty square!  This is precisely what the Chinese are up to in their political games. Just look up for the other players involved...


Chinese influence in Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and attempts to break-through in Afghanistan with financial assistance are increasing. It made inroads in Nepal and possibly considers Bhutan as a harmless spectator.


Yes, trade with China, or for that matter, with any country is welcome and necessary for survival.  But it is absolutely foolish to encourage and expand trade with China and make large investments there, at the cost of Indian industry.


India will not command respect if we keep towing the line of least resistance. It is time to put up a firm stand on these matters and consider an embargo on trade until such time China realizes that it can not fool us all the time.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)



Saccha Bhartiya

4 years ago

Army rule needs to be in India to protect If President was A.K than President rule would have helped too, but current President is also Congress oh Sorry Gandhi family's puppet.. People what are you doing you keep on opposing Congress on Web.. but put this into real life and throw the wholw Gandhian akkka Congress dynasty away.. they dont deserve to be here. We dont want Italian rulers.. do we..


4 years ago

Solomon the Cursed is right. India is NO pushover. You cannot pushover somebody who is grovelling. Please note that it takes a minimum of 10 attackers to dislodge one entrenched soldier. It will now take India one Infantry Brigade to dislodge the Chinese Platoon. These are things that India’s Neta-Babus studiously ignore in their pursuit of the Nehruvian madness that 1962 represents. ITBP (and the Ladakh Scouts) is officially a para military force in a country where the regular armed forces have already been degraded to the equivalent of a paramilitary force. Just one example: The Indian Army asked for high altitude helicopters after Kargil. Typically, this got altered into low altitude VIP helicopters for transporting India’s ruling scum in the name of the Army at the expense of the defense budget, resulting in the now infamous Augusta Westland deal. The Indian Army has no helicopters to access this theater. Solomon the Cursed is right. India is NO pushover. You cannot pushover a country that is already grovelling. While India can never even hope or dream of challenging Chinese military superiority in Asia, it would be good if India's ruling scum got off their Nehruvian Hobby-Horses and formed a military alliance with Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea and sacrificed some of their personal lust and greed to allow India a military force that can and will defend India's sovereignty and territorial integrity. (I am entitled to dream, am I not? That countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would trust a nation of criminals like India and that India's scum would ever give up a single privilege or opportunity to loot for the betterment of India or Indians?)The whole World knows what China is and how it goes about its business. Had the Japanese ASDF and MSDF not mobilized, there would be a Chinese flag flying on Shenkaku. What is going on is a typical Shenkaku or Bay of Pigs event with China pushing the envelope to test India's resolve and ability. India is lost in Nehruvian polemics. There can be no diplomacy without adequate military force. China has intelligence, military force and and border infrastructure. India has no such extravagance. India's ruling scum have wealth in safe havens and are always ready to flee and make room for the next comer at the Pagoda Tree. Sovereignty and corruption are incompatible.Corruption is nothing but treason. Will Mir Neta Ji and Mir Babu Saheb receive Chinese pensions?(But. India could always deploy the Admiral Gorshkov and HMS Hermes equipped with indigenous LCA on Pangong Lake with the proven expertise of CSIR/DRDO?)

p s d

4 years ago

Read about China to understand it. Indians learn about China from US press and briefings. Read McGraw Hills recent book Cinasthana Today. Google it for more.
We do not need Chinese to hurt our manufacturing our policy makers are masters at it. In India manufacturing died due to our corrupt government, politicians and sarkari babus



In Reply to p s d 4 years ago

Our government's policy is too meek. Do you remember 'Not a blade of grass grows there'? Now 'It is an acne and not a matter of worry'. Power at Centre is a sole motive of politicians.

anantha ramdas

4 years ago

Cheap chinese goods are flooding the market. No doubt it is Indian traders who import all these for resale. It is not they do not produce goods that are not value for money, but buyers will have to learn and realize that by buying all sorts of goods, because they are "cheap" indirectly are closing down small scale industries and increasing our unemployment.

Yes, large scale embargo is not a solution; but, like we did a few months ago, on heavy electrical equipments, after serious protests from industry, the government was forced to raise the duty tariff. We need to exercise some restraint and follow Gandhijis boycott policy.

WE need to give a preferential treatment to Indian products and services and buy outside or foreign products when similar items are not available or in short supply.

So far, the Ministry of Defence has mentioned about "flag meetings" Peace with honour is good, but why don't they publicly announce when the structures were built by India?

We have to be firm in our dealings and in our stand on such issues.

p s d

4 years ago

Chinese will keep us guessing but they need peace with India for their surviving...I say this with some confidence but that does not mean we stop getting stronger, militarily and economically. We just talk, gossip, spread fear rather than nation building with focus and zeal.


4 years ago



Kamal Kant Mishra

4 years ago

The Himalayan Range if full of minerals. Gold found in Tibet was the reason why China expanded to Tibet. The Gold reserves found at Tibet mines although undisclosed made the Chinese open mines & in which there was downplayed & we allow these incursions without a slight protest. I agree 100% that we should put in a BLOCKADE on all Imports from China immediately. Please check the hyperlinks

p s d

4 years ago

There some basic questions about the border dispute between India and China.
China was a unified nation for many centuries. India, however, was a cluster of many kingdoms and got a shape as a nation primarily under the British Rule. That is when British decided what Indian Territory is and what our national boundaries are. During the 19th century British had occupied part of China by defeating the Emperor for trading rights and opium war was a part of it. British ruled in the north-east India including Nepal, Tibet etc. They then arbitrarily drew a border along McMahon Line.
Chinese dispute McMahon line’s sanctity as a border. India rightly claims that current boundary of India is as per the McMahon line. So is the dispute. What is agreed between the two countries is not to use military force to settle the dispute and do it only through negotiations and discussion. That process is on. What is agreed also is not to create any camps within a few km from the line. It is clear that this will get settled after some fact finding. We need to leave it to the governments and not get unduly perturbed.
One must be vigilant about our border, whether with Pakistan or China and do so with some strength. China is getting militarily stronger and they say that it is all for self-defence. How much we are investing in time, imagination and innovation to make us militarily strong for self-defence like China? We govern ourselves so pathetically that only mercy of God saves us. Wisdom tell me that friendship with China is vital and more important than friendship with USA. Current diplomatic positioning is therefore appropriate and use this time benefit from China. India could have been in a similar state as China is if our governments were truly committed to building a strong nation.
P. S. Deodhar


4 years ago

We are going through a tough transition phase. Delhi has to rise to the occasion and restore domestic (first) and international credibility. Time was, when governments at national level could pursue a policy of ‘wait and see’ and many issues could be swept under carpet, as time passed. These days, thanks to faster communication, better overall awareness and many stakeholders being not very much concerned about ‘history’ quick responses, quicker solutions are needed. We should learn from countries like Japan which have lived through more agonizing relationship issues with countries and learnt to face each issue on merits. We too should handle trade, relationship issues including border disputes and cultural and social interactions without too much mix-up.

pravin varma

4 years ago

this embargo on trade business is funny.the people who benefit by trade with china are is like slapping your child because your neighbor is misbehaving with can always try and persuade people to purchase less value for money stuff from other harm in going that route.ofcourse it will fail.
all trade 'retaliation' is nothing but cutting your nose to spite the face.
how about diplomatic and military solution? too difficult to try that? we have so many babus in the foreign service.why not put them to work?

Ramesh Iyer

4 years ago

Since the Indo-China war in 1962, which China won hands down, the relations between these two countries has never been cordial. Even the Hindi-Chini bhai bhai slogan had little meaning in real world (ask troops on both sides of Indo-China border). Yet, India has encouraged Chinese "economic incursion" allowing cheap, often substandard products, flooding indian markets. I reckon if anything apart from the milk and vegetables we consume daily doesn't carry the Made in China tag. Such a policy killed India's manufacturing sector, as even large Indian companies preferred to setup manufacturing bases in China rather than expand in India, thanks to more conducive business environment in China, assuring greater profitability to Indian MNCs. Hence, India has always had double-standards in its economic and foreign policies, and not exactly protecting India's interests in either aspects. Reminds me the old saying in Hindi - haathi ke daanth khane ke aur, dikhane ke aur !



In Reply to Ramesh Iyer 4 years ago

I fully agree with you & may be some people don't understand what you want to convey, hence suggesting you with some weird ideas.

pravin varma

In Reply to Ramesh Iyer 4 years ago

what is an 'economic incursion'? you allow the milkman and the paperwalla and the subziwalla and the tailor and the butcher ad infinitum to 'intrude' into your economic life.would it not be grand if you rather banished these fellows and did it all yourself? that is clearly the road to prosperity.

Fertilizer plants: What went wrong in West, Texas — and where were the regulators?

Seven different agencies regulate fertilizer plants in Texas, but none of them have authority over how close they are to homes and schools

April 25:
This post has been corrected.

A week after a blast at a Texas fertilizer plant killed at least 15 people and hurt more than 200, authorities still don’t know exactly why the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant exploded.

Here is what we do know: The fertilizer plant hadn’t been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. Its owners do not seem to have told the Department of Homeland Security that they were storing large quantities of potentially explosive fertilizer, as regulations require. And the most recent partial safety inspection of the facility in 2011 led to $5,250 in fines.

We have laid out which agencies were in charge of regulating the plant and who’s investigating the explosion now.

What happened, exactly?

Around 7:30 p.m. on April 17, a fire broke out at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant in West, Texas, a small town of about 2,800 people 75 miles south of Dallas. Twenty minutes later, it blew up. The explosion shook houses 50 miles away and was so powerful that the United States Geological Survey registered it as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake. It flattened homes within a five-block radius and destroyed a nursing home, an apartment complex, and a nearby middle school.  According to the New York Times, the blast left a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep, and the fire “burned with such intensity that railroad tracks were fused.”

The blast killed at least 15 people, most of them firefighters and other first responders.

Have fertilizer plants ever exploded before?

Yes. A plant in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, that manufactured ammonium nitrate fertilizer — the same explosive chemical stored in West — exploded on Dec. 13, 1994, killing four people and injuring 18.

But fertilizer plants are safer now, said Stephen Slater, the Iowa administrator of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “All kinds of technologies have had huge improvements,” he told the Des Moines Register. “And we haven’t had any bad experiences at the plants in the 20 years since [the accident]. I’m knocking on wood.” (Slater did not respond to our requests for comment.)

Who regulates these fertilizer plants?

At least seven different states and federal agencies can regulate Texas fertilizer plants like the one in West: OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service.

Some of the agencies do not appear to have shared information before the blast.

Fertilizer plants that hold more than 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate, for instance, are required to notify the Department of Homeland Security. (Ammonium nitrate can be used to make bombs. It’s what Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.) The West plant held 270 tons — yes, tons — of the chemical last year, according to a report it filed with the Texas Department of State Health Services, but the plant didn’t tell Homeland Security.

Carrie Williams, a Department of State Health Services spokeswoman, told ProPublica that the agency isn’t required to pass that information — which is also sent to local authorities — on to Homeland Security.

While the exact cause of the explosion is unknown, a federal official told the New York Times that investigators believed it was caused by the ammonium nitrate. The blast crater is in the area of the plant where the chemical was stored.

The plant also filed a “worst-case release scenario” report with the EPA and local officials stating there was no risk of a fire or an explosion. The scenario described an anhydrous ammonia leak that would not hurt anyone.

Did any of these agencies fail to inspect the plant when they should have?

It’s unclear. OSHA conducted the last full safety inspection of the plant in 1985. “Since then,” the Huffington Post reported, “regulators from other agencies have been inside the plant, but they looked only at certain aspects of plant operations, such as whether the facility was abiding by labeling rules when packaging its fertilizer for sale.”

You can view the full OSHA report here. Since 2011, OSHA has carried out inspections based in part on the level of risk that plants like the one in West reported to the EPA. Since the West plant had told the EPA there was no risk of a fire or an explosion, it wasn’t a priority. The plant also may have been exempt from some inspections as a small employer. An OSHA spokesman told ProPublica that the agency would be investigating whether the plant had such an exemption.

As the Huffington Post also noted, the most recent federal safety inspection of the plant, in 2011, resulted in a $5,250 fine for failing to draft a safety plan for pressured canisters of anhydrous ammonia, among other infractions. (There’s no evidence that anhydrous ammonia played any role in the explosion.)

Why was a plant that stored explosive chemicals allowed to be located so close to a school?

The EPA and other federal agencies actually don’t regulate how close such plants can be to schools, nursing homes and population centers. In Texas, the decision is left up to the local zoning authorities.

A Dallas Morning News investigation in 2008 found that Dallas County residents were “at risk of a toxic disaster because outdated and haphazard zoning has allowed homes, apartments and schools to be built within blocks — in some cases even across the street — from sites that use dangerous chemicals.”

Ed Sykora, who owns a Ford dealership in West and spent a dozen years on the school board and the city council, told the Huffington Post he couldn’t recall the town discussing whether it was a good idea to build houses and the school so close to the plant, which has been there since 1962. "The land was available out there that way; they could get sewer and other stuff that way without building a bunch of new lines," Sykora said. "There never was any thought about it. Maybe that was wrong."

Who’s investigating what happened?

OSHA, the EPA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are all investigating. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the Chemical Safety Board’s conclusions. The agency is still investigating a blast that killed seven workers at an oil refinery in Washington State three years ago, as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers in 2010 and sent oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico for months.

A Center for Public Integrity investigation found that the number of accident reports completed by the Chemical Safety Board had declined dramatically since 2006. Daniel Horowitz, the agency’s managing director, said that the agency was stretched thin and had been asking for more investigators for years.

“Going forward, the owners and employees of Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Co. are working closely with investigating agencies,” Donald Adair, the plant’s owner and a West resident, said in a statement last Friday. “We are presenting all employees for interviews and will assist in the fact finding to whatever degree possible.”

Has Congress introduced any new regulation legislation?

Yes, but it would roll back regulations rather than strengthen them. Eleven representatives — one Democrat and 10 Republicans — sponsored  a bill in February that would limit the EPA’s regulatory authority over fertilizer plants. It has been endorsed by industry groups such as the Fertilizer Institute. Kathy Mathers, a spokeswoman for the Fertilizer Institute, told ProPublica that the group supports the bill because it would more clearly spell out how the EPA can regulate the industry.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated two different figures for the number of people killed in the blast. It is at least 15 people.


You may want to read…

Hyderabad blasts: How warnings about ammonium nitrate by former union secretary were ignored

Is anyone keeping eye on ammonium nitrate movement in India, asks EAS Sarma


Ammonium nitrate stockpile in Vishakhapatnam raises serious questions on naval security



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