New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the stay of marine Massimiliano Latorre, who along with his colleague Salvatore Girone is accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, in Italy till 30 September.
The court was informed by the Centre that international arbitration proceedings in the matter would be completed by December 2018.
A bench comprising Justices AR Dave, Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy asked the Italian authority in New Delhi to give an undertaking to abide by the conditions under which Latorre was allowed to leave India.
It said a fresh undertaking has to be furnished before 30 April when the earlier extension of his stay comes to an end.
Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar apprised the bench about the schedule of proceedings fixed before International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany.
"End of 2018 is when the award will come," the SG told the bench, saying that India had not agreed for the conclusion of proceedings in 2019.
The apex court had on 13 January asked the Centre to apprise it of the status of international arbitration proceedings in the case.
The court had earlier stayed all criminal proceedings, including the trial of the two marines.
While allowing the joint request of India and Italy, the apex court had said the proceedings would remain stalled till the jurisdictional issue about which country has the right to conduct trial was decided through international arbitration.
The SG said that all the proceedings will remain stayed in India till the matter is pending in the tribunal. He also said the Government of India is clear that nothing can proceed till the tribunal passes the award.
Senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for the marine, wanted the extension of Latorre's stay in Italy till the year end but the court did not agree with him.
Sorabjee was of the view that since there was no trial, there was no point in compelling him to come back.
The marines, who were on board ship 'Enrica Lexie', are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on 15 February, 2012.
The counsel, appearing for victim fishermen, raised an objection that identical relief of allowing the other accused marine Salvatore Girone to leave India, should not be given.
The SG said that it has been told to the tribunal that India has the freedom to go ahead with the trial.
The apex court had on 26 August, 2015 suspended all court proceedings here in pursuance of an interim order of the ITLOS asking India to maintain "status quo" in the case.
The Centre had then said that a five-member tribunal (ITLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal) would be set up, probably to decide the issue of jurisdiction.
The court, in August last year, had extended the stay of Latorre, who underwent a heart surgery in Italy, by six months while asking him to file an undertaking that he would abide by its conditions.
Latorre, who had suffered a brain stroke on 31 August, 2014, was allowed by the apex court on 12 September, 2014 to go to Italy for four months and after that, extensions have been granted to him.
The complaint against the Italian marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of the fishing boat 'St Antony', in which the two Indian fishermen were killed when the marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.