The move comes in the wake of Italy challenging in Supreme Court the authority of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe killing of an Indian fishermen duo off Kerala coast by two Italian marines, currently in judicial custody. One of them, however, is in Italy due to medical reasons.

The Home Ministry has started inter-ministerial consultations to identify agencies of the central government that can investigate various types of offences in the international waters, according to documents accessed by PTI.

The comments have been sought from ministries like External Affairs, Petroleum, Shipping, Mines and Department of Fisheries because at present there is no clarity which agency is empowered under existing maritime laws to enforce and investigate offences committed in both territorial and international waters.

In the case related to the incident involving Italian marines Latorre and Girone on board ship 'Enrica Lexie' off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, Rome had challenged NIA's jurisdiction to probe crimes committed in high seas.

It had also challenged NIA's initial move to slap stringent anti-terror law -- Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platform on Continental Shelf Act (SUA), 2002 -- saying that the offence was not a terror act but a simple murder. Later, the NIA had withdrawn slapping SUA against the two marines.

Discussing the issue in a recent meeting, chaired by Secretary Border Management in the Home Ministry Snehlata Kumar, it was informed that the CBI can investigate offences committed beyond territorial waters.

However, NIA is empowered to investigate crimes committed in high seas under SUA.

The representative of the Defence Ministry stated that "it has taken up the matter with Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for amending the Maritime Zones Act so as to provide powers to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) so that ICG could effectively deal with crimes committed in the international waters".

However, the MEA is yet to take a call. "The MEA is actively considering the request of Defence Ministry and per se have no objection to the proposal," said the document.

In case of the Maritime Zones of India (Regulation of Fishing by Foreign Vessels) Act, 1981, an official from Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries said that the officers of the ICG are authorised to enforce provisions of this Act and no amendment is required.

After deliberations, the Ministries of Shipping, Mines and Petroleum have been asked to notify the investigating agencies under The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution of the seas by oil) Rules, 1974, The Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002 and The Petroleum and Natural Gas (Safety and Offshore Operations) Rules, 2008, respectively.

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