The government on 3 May asserted in the Lok Sabha that the UN arbitration tribunal's order allowing a murder-accused Italian marine Sergeant Salvatore Girone to return home from India pending its proceedings has "affirmed" the Supreme Court's authority and not questioned it.
Making a statement, Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Finance Arun Jaitley said the tribunal has confirmed Italy's obligation to return Sergeant Girone to India in case India's jurisdiction over him is established.
The tribunal has also left it to the Supreme Court to fix precise conditions of his bail, he said amid unhappiness expressed by Congress over the way the case is being handled by the government.
"We see the tribunal's order not just as a recognition of India's consistent positions and key arguments but also as an affirmation of the authority of the Supreme Court of India," said Jaitley, speaking on behalf of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is unwell.
The MEA statement on 2 May said, "In its order today, the Arbitral Tribunal unanimously prescribed that India and Italy would approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of bail conditions of Sergeant Girone. While remaining under the authority of the Supreme Court of India, he may return to Italy for the duration of the present arbitration. The Tribunal confirmed Italy’s obligation to return him to India in case it was found that India had jurisdiction over him in respect of the incident."
"The Tribunal left it to the Supreme Court of India to fix the precise conditions of Sergeant Girone’s bail. This could include him reporting to an authority in Italy designated by our Supreme Court, surrendering his passport to Italian authorities and not leaving Italy without the permission of our Supreme Court. Italy shall apprise our Supreme Court of his situation every three months," the MEA statement added.
Congress members, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, staged a walkout, expressing unhappiness after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow them to ask questions. Their protests invited criticism from Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who accused Congress of doing so because of the Assembly polls in Kerala as media would cover it even though the Speaker has expunged their remarks. "It's match-fixing," he said.
The two Italian marines are accused of killing two fishermen of Kerala four years back. Jaitley said the issue of jurisdiction, which is "at the heart" of the case, is yet to be even argued before the tribunal and the "limited relief" given on humanitarian considerations has been made contingent to the clear cut undertakings provided by Italy that Girone will return to India in case its jurisdiction is established.
"The tribunal noted that while Italy had earlier made a far-reaching request that, if granted, would have removed
Sergeant Girone entirely from the reach of India's legal system. This time Italy was only requesting India to relax the bail conditions to enable him to return to Italy.
"In doing so, Italy was prepared to accept that he remained under the jurisdiction of the courts if India. In essence, they proposed to change the physical location of Sergeant Girone's bail without prejudice to the authority of India's courts," he said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: May 03, 2016 15:00 PM