As his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi sought an early resolution of the marines issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told him that the matter is subjudice and that the Indian judicial process should be allowed to to take its own course.
Renzi had a telephonic conversation with Modi on Monday during which he said Italy hoped for a "rapid and positive solution" in the case of the two Italian marines being held in India for allegedly shooting to death two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012.
An official release issued in Delhi said that during the conversation that took place at the request of the Italian side Modi emphasized that a fair and early resolution was in mutual interest. It said Renzi requested for early resolution of the marines issue.
Modi conveyed that the matter is subjudice before the Supreme Court of India in writ petitions filed by the marines and encouraged the Italian side to allow the judicial process to take its own course.
In this context, he emphasized that Indian judiciary is free, fair and independent and that the government was convinced it will take all aspects into consideration in adjudicating the case.
"We hope for a rapid, positive solution," Renzi told Modi during the conversation, Italian news agency ANSA quoted Renzi's office as saying.
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been held in India since allegedly shooting to death fishermen Valentine and Ajesh Binki during an anti-piracy mission in February 2012, an incident that sparked diplomatic tensions between India and Italy.
During the telephonic conversation, Renzi congratulated Modi on his victory in the Lok Sabha elections. Modi thanked Renzi for his felicitations and wished him success in leading Italy on the path of economic recovery and prosperity.
The Prime Minister also reiterated India's commitment to further strengthen its bilateral relations with Italy. In this context, he emphasized the need for strengthening economic cooperation through enhanced trade and investment.
Modi congratulated Renzi on Italy's assumption of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. He expressed the hope that under Italy's Presidency, India's relations with the EU will expand rapidly and there will be progress on conclusion of India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement.
The two Prime Ministers also agreed to maintain close dialogue at all levels. The two marines, deployed on the Italian-flagged oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie, said they mistook the fishermen for pirates. They are now staying in the Italian Embassy in New Delhi awaiting trial.
India has removed the possibility of a death penalty but insisted that the marines would still be prosecuted under the anti-piracy law. Now, they face up to 10 years in jail. Rome wants the marines to be tried in Italy, claiming the incident took place in international waters. However, New Delhi says it has the right to try the Italians as the victims were Indians on board an Indian fishing boat.
Italy argues that the case sets dangerous and wide-ranging precedents for any country involved in anti-piracy missions overseas. Italy has said it may also seek international arbitration in the case.