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Italian Marines brought back is a national victory

Bringing the Italian Marines back to the country for trial in the case of killings of two Kerala fishermen in the international waters (some 22.5 nautical miles away from the Indian coast) in March 2012 has, indeed, been turn out to be one of the most significant diplomatic developments around the world to look out for. Though Indian leadership has finally been succeeded, amidst growing pressures from various political factions across the country, in bringing the marines back, but it is still remain to be seen how the events would get unfolded in the future. Terming the event as a 'victory' for the Indian diplomacy by several political groups and diplomatic experts, coming back of marines has truly reinforced India's standing in the international diplomatic community.

Prosecuted on the charges for shooting the fishermen boat, reported not looked like an intimidated pirate's ship craft, and that too without prior air-firing or giving any warning signal in the wake of the perceived threats, the right of India to adjudicate the proceedings in the case is in question. As per the UNCLOS, an international law governing the sea usage by various countries across the globe, if the incident takes place in the international waters then the matter should be decided either by the International Court of Justice or by the parties involved in the conflict by deploying diplomatic meetings or talks or by the third-party arbitration to resolve the issue. Taking into account the severity of the case and the way events unfolded in the last few days, mutual resolve of the issue still seems to be an eluded option and India is not in favor of the other two options as well.

The Supreme Court's ruling directing holding back of the Italian ambassador, on the basis of the affidavit filed by him on behalf of his country's leadership by undertaking the responsibility of returning the marines after the poll process in the country gets over, within the national confines has raised serious doubts in the international community questioning India's commitment towards abiding with the international treaty (UNCLOS) in which Art 29 grants immunity to the diplomat of a country from arrest and detention. Surely India has a good reason to detain the diplomat as on his assurance only did the leadership allow the marines to go back to their country and participated in the festivities and in the event of national importance, but the Italian govt. retracted from its words and showed no regard for the faith & trust that Indian govt. had shown on them.

As far as obliging to the international laws is concerned, our Parliament had enacted Diplomatic Relations Act under the mandate and obligation of Art 253 of the constitution which empowers the parliament to make law in consonance with any international treaty to which India is a signatory and in this case, it's Vienna Convention which is under consideration. As the case involves killing of Indian nationals, the marines can be adjudicated by setting up of a Special Court in the State, to which the fishermen belonged. But Italy's contention that the incident took place in the international waters and the marines should be prosecuted by an Italian court represents the other face of the coin and has brought the diplomatic relations between the two countries at loggerheads.

Coming of the marines has shown the solidarity of the Indian leadership towards its citizenry and its resolve to punish the guilty has surely revived the confidence of people over the UPA govt. which has received a setback on account of insensitivities shown at home. But the victory can only be declared national, and called achieved in a true sense, only by arriving at a concurrent political resolution of the issue along with Italy for which, an otherwise, legal solution seems unlikely.

Abhishek Dixit