The Complicated case of Enrica Lexie by Krishna Sreeja @LEXCLIQ

Introduction :

The following is case about how the incidents that eventually disturbed and strained diplomatic relations between India and Italy. So, it is the most important case which attracted the attention of entire Asia and Europe. The whole complications started with an incident on 15th Feb. 2012 and it took nine years for both countries to come into peace and as the issue is between two nations it involved many bodies having international importance.                    Let’s see the detailed analysis of the whole case law.

Enrica Lexie case:


On 15th Feb. 2012, an Indian fishing vessel called “The St. Antony” carrying men, who were engaged in fishing at approximately 20 nautical miles of the coast of Kerala. The 2 Indian men in the fishing vessel were shot down by the two Italian marine commanders who were  in an Italian oil tanker ship called “Enrica Lexie”. These two men were part of their tanker that was travelling from Sri Lanka to Egypt.

As per the United Nations Convention of on Law of Seas (UNCLOS),                                                                                       the Territorial waters extends up to to the 12 nautical miles from the coast.                                                                     the Contiguous Zone extends up to to the 24 nautical miles from the coast                                                                     the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends up to to the 200 nautical miles from the coast                                                  and above 200 nautical miles is referred as a High  Seas.

So, according to the above measures the incident took place within contiguous zone.


When the marine commanders were charged under the charges of murder, both the Italian commanders filed a petition in the High Court of Kerala. “Massimiliano Latorre and Ors. vs Union of India“. In this case, the High Court gave a judgement that Italian Marine should be tried for Murder of the two fishermen under the jurisdiction of Indian Courts according to IPC and the Italian marine can not be entitled sovereign immunity as it was not discharging any sovereign functions of their nation.

Later the case was escalated by the Supreme Court and the Apex court stated that as the incident happened in Contiguous zone, the high court of Kerala had no jurisdiction for entertaining this case.                                                 As Italy was not satisfied with the Indian jurisdiction in this case and to cease the Indian Jurisdiction in this case, Italy escalated the matter before the International Tribunal on Law of Sea (ITLOS) ehich is located in Hamburg, Germany. In 2015, ITLOS asked the both countries must suspend all the proceedings against each other and also asked to submit an initial reports of the given event.

Permanent Court of Arbitration:

India was not satisfied with this and approached the Permanent Court of Arbitration as both countries are signatories of the UNCLOS.

Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Italy had acted in breach of the provision of UNCLOS by infringing India’s right to freedom of navigation in the seas by firing and restricting the movement Indian fishing vessel St. Antony. Also, Italy was liable to pay compensation for the loss of lives of two fishermen.

So, India can demand compensation under section 87 to 90 of United Nations Convention of on Law of Seas (UNCLOS).                                                                                                                                                                            But, the Italian commanders are given immunity for the acts they have committed.

Recently, the Central government asked the Supreme Court to dismiss all the pending pleas in relation to Enrica Lexie Case and a compensation of 1 crore was awarded to the relatives of deceased Indian fisherman by Italy.

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