Following up on our discussion of the Enrica Lexie incident off the coast of Kerala, here’s an update on the latest developments:
1. As noted earlier, the detained Italian marines as well as the Italian consulate had filed a petition in the Kerala High Court for declaration that Indian courts did not have jurisdiction to try the Italian marines. The oral arguments in the matter are now over and the court has reserved its judgment. An indication of the Court’s mindset, however, can be gauged from its classification of the shooting by the Italian marines as an act of terrorism. From the jurisdictional perspective, this is very interesting because the Court has previously observed in another case (Raymund Gencianeo v.State of Kerala, 2004 Cri. LJ 2296, para. 6) that Indian courts have jurisdiction over criminal offences committed by foreigners only in India’s territorial waters. If, however, the act is treated as a terrorist act, instead of just a criminal act, it could be possible for Indian courts to exercise universal jurisdiction, irrespective of where the alleged crime occurred. (See this, for further discussion)
2. Italy, on the other hand, appears to have accepted Indian courts’ jurisdiction over the above incident. This detail emerged at a meeting between the Indian and Italian prime ministers on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on 26 March 2012.