'Deposit compensation for Indian fishermen killed by Italian marines'

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday directed the Centre to deposit in its account Rs 10 crore to be given by Italy for the kin of two Indian fishermen killed by Italian Marines off Kerala coast in February 2012 and said the court itself will disburse the compensation.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, We direct that after the amount is received by the Union of India, the same shall be deposited in this Court within a period of one week. List the matter on April 19, 2021."

The top court noted the submission of senior advocate Suhail Dutt, appearing for Italy, that the compensation payable as per the International Tribunal award dated May 21, 2020 will be deposited today by his client with India in account to be specified by the Ministry of External Affairs.

It was hearing the Centre's application for closure of case against the two Italian marines -- Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre.

In February 2012, India had accused the two marines on board the MV Enrica Lexie -- an Italian flagged oil tanker -- of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel in India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the victims' kin have consented for compensation of Rs 10 crore above the ex-gratia amount already paid in the case.

Mehta said the Centre has negotiated a good deal for the victims' families from the Italian government and it has been accepted by them.

As you'd know, Indians are the best negotiators in terms of money, we negotiated for victims and Italian government has agreed. They have agreed on Rs 10 crores more than what they'd agreed before, he said.

Mehta added that the Kerala government has told the foreign secretary that it had consulted the victims' families and they have consented in writing that they have agreed to the compensation.

Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for the Kerala government, confirmed that the families have agreed to the compensation.

The difficulty is that criminal proceedings are pending in international court and if international tribunal's order is accepted, trial court will have no jurisdiction, Mehta said, adding that closure of cases can be only done by the apex court only.

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