To end the ambiguity over jurisdiction in the wake of Italian marines case, 10 police stations located along India’s coastline have been empowered to register and investigate crimes committed within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Home Ministry has issued a gazette notification, invoking the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976, and said the 10 police stations located on both east and west coasts can investigate any offence committed by any person within the EEZ. They are Navibandar coastal PS (Gujarat), Yellow Gate PS (Maharashtra and Daman and Diu), Harbour coastal security PS (Goa), Mangalore coastal security PS (Karnataka), Fort Kochi coastal PS (Kerala and Lakshadweep), B5 Harbour PS (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry), Gilakaladindi PS in Machilipatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Paradeep marine PS (Odisha), Nayachar coastal PS (West Bengal), and Central Crimes Station, Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands). India has a 7,517-km coastline, which is dotted with 12 major ports and 187 minor or intermediate ports. India’s territorial waters end at 12 nautical miles while exclusive economic zone stretches to 200 nautical miles from the coast. When the two Italian marines, on board ship MV Enrica Lexie were arrested off Kerala coast for killing two fishermen on February 15, 2012, Italy had challenged it saying the offence was committed in international waters. However, India maintained that the crime had taken place within the EEZ. Italy even took the case to an international tribunal in The Netherlands, claiming New Delhi has no jurisdiction to pursue the case and only an international court can try the marines. The case continues to be sub-judice though both the marines were allowed to go back home. “The new gazette notification will end any such ambiguity in future,” a senior official said. The EEZ includes the contiguous zone. Countries also have rights to the seabed of what is called the continental shelf up to 350 nautical miles from the coastal baseline, beyond the EEZ. But such areas are not part of their EEZ. The legal definition of the continental shelf does not directly correspond to the geological meaning of the term, as it also includes the continental rise and slope, and the entire seabed within the exclusive economic zone.
2016, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.