New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday issued notice to Kerala Police and the state’s mercantile marine department on a petition by the owners of Italian ship MT Enrica Lexie seeking a direction for its release so that it could continue with its voyage, having been detained after two of its crew killed two Indian fishermen in February.
Notice was also issued to the central government and Doramma, the widow of one of the two fishermen who were killed by the Italian marines on board the ship.
An apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale issued notice after senior counsel K.K. Venugopal said the two Italian marines were already in police custody and their firearms had been seized. He told the court that a forensic sciences laboratory too had submitted its report on the weapons of the two Italian accused.
The two Indian fishermen were allegedly mistaken as pirates and shot dead by the marines aboard Enrica Lexie Feb 15 off the coast of Alappuzha, Kerala.
The senior counsel told the court that the ship had nothing to do with the offence and in no way formed the property of the case.
As Venugopal said this, the court asked if a shot fired from a building resulting in the death of a person would also make the building a case property and it would be put under seizure.
The petition by the ship MT Enrica Lexie has challenged the Kerala High Court order detaining the Italian ship by staying the single judge order that had directed the police to permit the ship to sail. The division bench of the high court had stayed single judge order on a petition by Doramma.
Venugopal said that appeal against the single judge order permitting the ship to sail out was not maintainable. He said that his client had complied with the conditions imposed by the court in pursuance of the release order.
The apex court was told that the 100,000 tonne ship incurred a loss of Rs.200 crore ever since it was detained at the Kochi port and its losses were adding up every day.
The senior counsel told the court that the entire matter has become an emotive issue in the state. He said that an application was moved alleging that Enrica Lexie was a pirate ship and another application alleged that all those present on the ship were terrorists.
The apex court while issuing notices to police, the central government and others asked them to reply by April 20.