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Delhi HC designates CMM court to try Italian marines

 Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Bansal will hear the case in observance to the Delhi High Court’s decision. The court of the CMM is also expected to adjudicate the contentious issue of jurisdiction

The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) of the Patiala House Court in New Delhi has been designated to conduct proceedings against the Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast last year. It is one of the six district courts in the national capital.

 

CMM Amit Bansal will hear the case in observance to the Delhi High Court’s decision, sources said. The court of the CMM is also expected to adjudicate the contentious issue of jurisdiction.

 

Since the Supreme Court, in its verdict on 18th January, held that Kerala had no jurisdiction in the matter, it would be interesting to note whether the CBI or any other agency is asked to investigate and file a report.

 

This scenario will arise only if the marines are eventually tried in India, since the apex court had said the matter of jurisdiction would be decided by the special court after perusing the evidence.

 

“At this stage, it is a tricky situation. Let’s watch and see,” said former Delhi High Court judge justice RS Sodhi. “There are many issues which require to be settled.”

 

Since it was apparently a case of murder, filing of the charge-sheet, taking cognisance and committal of the case to the sessions court have to be conducted by a magisterial court only, in accordance with provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, advocate Amit Kumar said.

 

Until proceedings start at the CMM’s court, the marines—Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone —would remain under the control of the Italian embassy, according to the Supreme Court’s direction.

 

The court had directed the Centre to set up a special court in consultation with the Chief Justice of India to try the case in accordance with provisions of the Maritime Zones Act, 1976, the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and UNCLOS, 1982. It had also pulled up the Union government for “dragging its feet” over setting up the court.

 

In its verdict, the court had said: “India is entitled both under its domestic law and the public international law to exercise rights of sovereignty up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline on the basis of which the width of territorial waters is measured, it can exercise only sovereign rights within the exclusive economic zone for certain purposes. The incident of firing from the Italian vessel on the Indian shipping vessel having occurred within the contiguous zone, the Union of India is entitled to prosecute the two Italian marines under the criminal justice system prevalent in the country.”

 

The apex court had dismissed the Italian ambassador’s plea that the accused enjoyed sovereign immunity.

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