Thiruvananthapuram/Chennai, April 21. Livid over the U-turn made by Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval in the Italian ship case, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today sought his immediate withdrawal from the case even as Centre distanced itself from the ASG’s remarks.
In a fax message to Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Chandy wanted to know under what circumstances Raval had submitted in the Supreme Court that India has no jurisdiction to detain the Italian ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ from which Marines had shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15 off Kerala coast.
In his submission, Raval had said that the ship was not within the Indian territorial waters when the shooting incident took place.
Chandy wanted the Centre to engage the Attorney General in the case in place of Raval, whose submission in the apex court yesterday drew sharp reaction from both opposition and ruling Congress-led UDF.
Earlier, talking to reporters in Kochi, Chandy said there was no change in the state’s stand on the issue and that Raval would not appear in the case.
Chandy said Kerala had informed the Central government at each stage of the case and had received full support.
“The Government is clear the incident happened in Indian waters,” Shipping Minister G K Vasan told reporters in Chennai. “It might be his personal opinion,” Vasan said when asked about Raval’s submissions. The ruling Congress-led UDF in Kerala found itself in a bind as the ASG’s submission contradicted the stand of the government headed by Oommen Chandy which firmly held that India has every legal competence to try the case under its law.
Seizing on the development, the critics said the ASG’s submission amounted to reinforcing Italy’s assertion that Indian courts had no jurisdiction to try the case since the alleged incident happened when the ship was in international waters.
Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily said in Thrissur that the Centre and Kerala were not on different “wavelengths” on the issue. “Sometimes the views expressed …are not in consonance with the views of the Central government. I do not think that the Central government and the state government are on different wavelengths,” he said. “Whenever there are mistakes, we have corrected them,” Moily said.
CPM stalwart V S Achuthanandan said the submission made by the ASG was nothing short of a betrayal of the country. Doramma and Derirk Valentine, the deceased fisherman’s wife and son, respectively, said in Kollam that it was difficult for them to understand as to how the Centre could take such a U-turn in the case after expressing solidarity with the bereaved families. (PTI)
The controversial statement
Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval had said on Thursday that the Italian ship was not in Indian territorial waters when the shooting took place. His submission amounted to reinforcing Italy’s assertion that Indian courts had no jurisdiction to try the case.
The government is clear that the incident happened in Indian waters. It might be his (ASG Harin Raval) personal opinion.
GK Vasan, Union Shipping Minister