Supreme Court. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, July 3 : The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that it has accepted the international tribunal award in the killing of two India fishermen by Italian marines and asked it to close the matter pending before it for eight years.

The tribunal ruled for the trial of marines in Italy, while holding India is entitled to payment of compensation in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of fishing vessel 'St. Antony'.

The Centre, in the application filed in the top court, said: "The applicant (Union of India) states and submits that the Republic of India has taken a decision to accept and abide by the Award passed by the Tribunal which would have the bearing on the continuance of present proceedings before this court." In March 2017, the apex court had passed an order where it directed the parties to place on record the award passed by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Centre submitted that on August 24, 2015, the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea (ITLOS), on the request of Italy, rendered an order prescribing provisional measures, which stated that Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings.

On August 26, 2015, the apex court, in view of the pendency of the issue before ITLOS, stayed the proceedings pending before it and before any other court.

"The Tribunal upheld the conduct of Indian authorities with respect to the incident and highlighted the material and moral harm suffered by the Indian fishermen on board the St. Antony on 15 February 2012. It held that the actions of the Italian Marines breached India's freedom and right of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90," said the Centre, citing salient features of the award.

However, the international tribunal found that the immunities enjoyed by the marines operate as an exception to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts and, hence, preclude India from exercising its jurisdiction over them.

It also rejected Italy's claim to compensation for the detention of the marines.

"India being a party to the UNCLOS, in accordance with the provisions of the UNCLOS and the Rules of Procedure agreed by the Parties, the Award is final and without appeal and shall be complied with by the parties to the dispute (Article 11, Annex VII, UNCLOS)", said the Centre's application, placing the award on record before the apex court.

On February 15, 2012, two Indian fishermen aboard the Indian fishing vessel, St. Antony, were allegedly killed by two Italian marines aboard the Italian tanker 'Enrica Lexie' off the coast of Kerala. The Indian Navy intercepted the Italian tanker and detained the two marines, triggering an international conflict over legal jurisdiction and functional immunity. The two marines were released and returned to Italy after two and four years, respectively. The Arbitral Tribunal was tasked to resolve the conflict over jurisdiction.

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