The Home Ministry is likely to decide in the next few days on NIA's move seeking sanction to prosecute two Italian marines accused of killing two Kerala fishermen under a law which provides only death penalty.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has sought the Home Ministry's nod to prosecute them under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA) for killing the fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
Sources said the Ministry is in a fix over the NIA move as under SUA, if anyone causes death, he or she will be awarded with only death penalty but India has already assured Italy that the offence would not warrant death under established jurisprudence.
Faced with the peculiar situation, the Home Ministry is examining various provisions of law but is yet to take a decision on NIA's move.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde recently chaired a high-level meeting to discuss NIA's request seeking sanction to prosecute the two Italian marines.
The meeting, attended by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Law Minister Kapil Sibal, looked into various ways through which a solution could be found to come out of the peculiar situation that the Home Ministry is facing.
One of the emerging suggestions was that after pressing the charges under SUA, the NIA may tell the trial court not to award the accused death penalty if found guilty, citing India's commitment to Italy.
Accused Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were on board Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie' and now lodged in New Delhi's Italy Embassy premises, allegedly shot dead the two fishermen.
The NIA completed its probe after questioning four Italian marines, who were witness to the incident, through video conferencing after their refusal to come to India.
The Supreme Court had shifted the case to Delhi, saying Kerala Police has no jurisdiction over it and backed the government's decision to hand over the case to NIA.