The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to authorities in Kerala on a petition filed by MT Enrica Lexie — the Italian ship anchored in the high seas off the Indian coast for about two months since its involvement in the killing of two Kerala fishermen — challenging a Kerala High Court order refusing to let the vessel sail.
Representing MT Enrica Lexie, senior advocate K K Venugopal submitted before a Bench led by Justice R M Lodha that 24 crew members, 19 of which are Indians and five Italians, have been stranded in the high seas since February 15. The fishermen were allegedly shot by two Italian Navy personnel on board the ship, who mistook them for pirates. The duo are currently in judicial custody in Kollam district in Kerala.
“This issue is very emotive,” Venugopal submitted.
“On February 25, based on a search warrant, the police entered the ship, conducted a thorough search and seized the arms and ammunition from the ship. Whatever material required by the police from the ship has been handed over to the police officers. Parallel investigation and inquiries were being conducted by the Mercantile Marine Department. In spite of all the investigation having been completed…, none of the authorities allowed the ship to continue its voyage,” the petition alleged.
The special leave petition drawn by advocate Raghenth Basant argued that the vessel has already incurred a loss of Rs 80 lakh and any further delay would lead to estimated losses to the tune of Rs 200 crore. “No useful purpose would be served by refusing to give clearance for the ship to continue its voyage,” it said.