Skip to main content

An unjustified delay

The interminable delay in resolving the outstanding issues concerning the prosecution of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012 is becoming a
diplomatic embarrassment to India. The Supreme Court has been adjourning the matter repeatedly in the hope that the Union government would find a solution, and in the latest instance it has given the Centre one more week to report a settlement. The main issue appears to be the National Investigating Agency’s insistence on invoking an anti-piracy law — the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 — which prescribes the death penalty for those causing death during an act of violence against any ship or vessel. The NIA is ready with its charge sheet, but is awaiting the outcome of proceedings in the Supreme Court before filing it in a special court. While there may be genuine reasons for the delay in resolving the matter, the country cannot afford to be seen as the cause. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has said Indian authorities have managed the case in contradictory and disconcerting ways. The European Union, which opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, has also warned of a possible adverse impact on trade relations with India.
It is particularly surprising that India’s approach should be marked by doubt and uncertainty even after the Supreme Court mapped the contours of the proposed prosecution in a January 2013 verdict, in which it held that only the Centre, and not Kerala, would have jurisdiction to try the case. The issue raised by the marines is whether the anti-piracy and anti-terrorism law can be invoked against them after the court had directed that the proceedings be under the Maritime Zones Act, 1976, the IPC and the CrPC, and the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982. The wisdom of invoking the anti-piracy law in a case involving a crime that was possibly committed under the impression that the targets were pirates, is open to question. As the incident took place in India’s Contiguous Zone, the Supreme Court had held that the Union government was entitled to prosecute the marines, but that it was subject to Article 100 of UNCLOS 1982, which says all states shall cooperate in the repression of piracy. Caught between national outrage against what many here see as wanton killing by trigger-happy marines, and the imperative of according a fair trial to the suspects, India seems to be faltering at both the diplomatic and legal levels. It needs to finalise a credible and legally sustainable approach to avoid diplomatic setbacks or, worse, a judicial invalidation.


Popular posts from this blog

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.