The government has told India's top court that it will not use a severe anti-piracy law when it tries two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012.

Government attorneys told the Supreme Court on Monday that the law, which carries the death penalty, will not apply in the case.

The marines were part of a military security team on an Italian cargo ship and fired at the fishermen, saying they mistook them for pirates.

The case has sparked a bitter row between the two nations. Last week Italy recalled its ambassador to India to register protest over the delay in filing charges against the marines.

The marines are on bail pending trial, and are living and working at the Italian Embassy in Delhi.