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Rediff.com  » News » Harin Raval: Benefit of doubt bypasses loyalist

Harin Raval: Benefit of doubt bypasses loyalist

May 03, 2013 09:54 IST

A combination of hurt feelings and an outraged conscience made Harin Raval resign as additional solicitor general, revealing in the process the most shocking insight into the judicial process since the imposition of the Emergency.

Only the most naive would say that lawyers always tell the truth. What they say might not be truthful but it must always be legal.

Despite this knowledge, it was still a shock for most Indians to learn the law officers of the government had been untruthful when they told the Supreme Court that the Prime Minister’s Office and the coal ministry had not interfered in the report prepared by the Central Bureau of Investigation on coal-block allocations.

In reality, and with the knowledge of the law officers, the CBI had not only shared the conclusions of its investigations with those whom it was probing, but also allowed them to tweak parts of it.

Harin Raval, the man who blew the whistle on the procedure has stepped down.

The additional solicitor general maintained he had said in court only what he had been asked to by Attorney General G Vahanvati.

In his letter to Vahanvati, Raval explains why he is quitting.

He writes: “On account of your statement, I felt embarrassed and was forced to take a stand, in Court, consistent with your submission made as Attorney General of India that the contents of the Status Report were not known to you and that they were not shared with the Government.”

Raval is known as a competent rather than a brilliant lawyer, but he comes from a family which has been Congress loyalists for generations.

In fact, he contested elections as a Congress candidate from Ellisbridge in the 1998 Gujarat assembly polls, standing against the BJP’s Haren Pandya, to whom he lost.

Raval trained under his father, Pravinkant Raval, who was the first advocate general of the Gujarat High Court.

In 2009, the son became the additional solicitor general, having served as assistant solicitor general earlier.

Not surprisingly, Raval is the choice of Ahmad Patel, political advisor to the Congress president, since both belong to Gujarat.

Considered a low-key and soft-spoken person, Raval is not the kind of person one would imagine taking the Union government head-on.

But Raval had already come in for criticism on a number of occasions when he based his legal judgment on the basis of law rather than politics.

In the case of the Italian marines, for instance, Raval submitted in the Supreme Court that India had no jurisdiction to detain the Italian ship, Enrica Lexie, from which the Italians had shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast.

Politically, this stance was damaging to the ruling Congress in Kerala, and led to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asking the then law minister, Salman Khurshid, to replace Raval.

A combination of hurt feelings and an outraged conscience made Harin Raval resign as additional solicitor general, revealing in the process the most shocking insight into the judicial process since the imposition of the Emergency.

Kavita Choudhury & Premal Balan
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