The central government Monday told the Supreme Court that it was not invoking the anti-piracy SUA Act against the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.
However, the centre told an apex court bench headed by Justice B.S. Chauhan that the probe would continue to be carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
This was opposed by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, saying that once the anti-piracy law goes the investigation by the NIA is also out of the question.
The court also issued notice to the centre on the plea by the marines that they cannot be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA.
The notice is returnable in one week and the reply in another week.
The court directed the listing of the matter before a three-judge bench.
The Marines, Massimilliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, have been held in India since February 2012 when they allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of the south Indian state of Kerala, mistaking them for pirates.
The marines were serving as security personnel on an Italian oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie crossing the Indian Ocean.
India claims jurisdiction in the case while Italy alleges the incident took place in international waters and the marines should be tried in their home country.