Sovereignty is not “given” but it is asserted, According to the Supreme Court of India while holding that the Italian marines allegedly involved in the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala can be prosecuted under municipal laws.
The apex court did not agree with the contention of the marines that the sovereignty of India does not extend beyond its territorial waters and therefore, the extension of the Indian Penal Code beyond the Indian territorial waters is impermissible.
Justice J Chelameswar told Parliament always asserted its authority to make laws which are applicable to “persons, who are not corporeally present within the territory of India (whether or not they are citizens) when such persons commit acts which affect the legitimate interests of this country.”
“I am of the opinion that Parliament, undoubtedly, has the power to make and apply the law to persons, who are not citizens of India, committing acts which constitute offences prescribed by the law of this country irrespective of the fact whether such acts are committed within the territory of India or irrespective of the fact that the offender is corporeally present or not within the Indian territory at the time of the commission of the offence,” Justice Chelameswar said while writing a separate but concurring judgement with the Chief Justice of India.
Further, According to him “I am of the opinion that sovereignty is not ‘given’ but it is only asserted. No doubt, under the Maritime Zones Act, Parliament expressly asserted sovereignty of this country over the territorial waters but simultaneously, asserted its authority to determine/alter the limit of the territorial waters.”