New Delhi, April 24 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday called on the Central Government to sack Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval for apparently defending the contention of the Italian Government that their country's ship - the Enrica Lexie - was in international waters and not in Indian waters when its security personnel killed two Keralite fishermen in February this year.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha through a statement, BJP leader Balbir Punj said that while the February 15 shooting incident was sad and regrettable, what was even more shocking to him and his party was Raval's defence of the Italian Government's contention in the Supreme Court.
He said that the Government of Kerala was well within its rights to start the legal process against the two Italian Marines responsible for the killing of innocent fishermen, and obviously the entire nation was sympathetically behind the state government on the issue.
"There was absolutely no difference of opinion between the Central Government, the State Government and the public opinion within the country (on the issue)," Punj said in his statement.
Punj said that as the Law Officer of the Government of India, Mr. Raval, should not have said that the Enrica Lexie was not in Indian waters at the time of the shooting incident, nor should he have told the apex court that the Kerala Government had no jurisdiction to even file a case against the Italian marines who were involved in the killing of the two fishermen.
Punj said that if Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna were shocked by the incident and convinced that it had taken place in Indian waters, then the question that surfaces is that under whose orders did Additional Solicitor General Raval act in the Supreme Court?
Punj was supported in his contention by two other senior BJP leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who demanded that the government sack Raval immediately as he had acted against the interests of the Centre in the apex court.
"Sir, the government has to respond. It is a very important issue. Your State, Kerala, is involved...(Interruptions) It is a serious matter. The Government has to respond," said Rudy.
Rajya Sabha vice-chairman P.J. Kurien tried to restore calm to proceedings in the house, saying that as it was Zero Hour, the statement would be put on record, and it was for the government to take note of it and respond.
He also said that since the Ministers of Law, External Affairs and Shipping were not present in the House at the time of the raising of the query, the opposition BJP would have to be patient about getting a response from the government.
Rudy, however, maintained that it was a matter related to poor fishermen, and described it as a serious matter.
Professor Kurien agreed that it was a serious matter, but said that he could not ask or direct the government on the issue.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said that he understood the feelings of the (opposition) members, and would convey their views to Mr. Vasan and Mr. Krishna. (ANI)
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