For the past seven years, Swamy’s petition was getting dragged
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that on April 26 it will hear the petition of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking direction to the Centre for declaring Ram Sethu as a national heritage monument. For the past seven years, Swamy’s petition was getting dragged and many time he criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not making a decision. After blocking the Congress-led UPA Government in 2008 from breaking Ram Sethu, Swamy was demanding that Ram Sethu be declared a national heritage monument.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian was urged by Swamy that the plea needed an urgent hearing. The CJI, who would superannuate on April 23, said, “let the next CJI (Justice N V Ramana) deal with this issue. I do not have so much time. This issue requires time and I don’t have it.” The bench listed the matter on April 26 for hearing after the BJP leader submitted that this issue is pending for quite some time. Earlier on January 23, 2020, the apex court had said it will consider after three months the plea of Swamy on Ram Sethu as a national heritage monument.
The apex court had on November 13, 2019, had granted six weeks to the Centre to clarify its stand on the Ram Sethu. It had also granted liberty to Swamy to approach the court if the response of the Centre was not filed.
Swamy had submitted that he has already won the first round of the litigation in which the Centre accepted the existence of Ram Sethu. He had further said that the union minister concerned had called a meeting in 2017 to consider his demand to declare the Ram Sethu as a national heritage monument but subsequently nothing happened. The apex court referred to the pendency of several cases before it and asked Swamy to mention his plea after three months.
The BJP leader had earlier raised Ram Sethu’s issue as a national monument in his PIL against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, initiated by the UPA-I government. The matter had reached the apex court, which in 2007 had stayed the work of the Ram Sethu project. The Centre had later said that it considered the “socioeconomic disadvantages” of the project and was willing to explore another route to the shipping channel project without damaging the Ram Sethu.
“That the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting/ damaging the Adam’s Bridge/ Ram Sethu in the interest of the nation,” the affidavit filed by the ministry had said. The court had then asked the government to file a fresh affidavit.
The Sethusamudram Shipping Channel project has been facing protests from some political parties, environmentalists and certain Hindu religious groups. Under the project, an 83 km-long deep water channel was to be created, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by extensive dredging and removal of limestone shoals. Sethusamudram Shipping Channel project by breaking Ram Sethu was first approved by the Vajpayee Government which was in power with the support of DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). The project was inaugurated in 2005 by UPA Government and in 2007 the apex court stayed breaking of Ram Sethu on Subramanian Swamy’s petition. In 2008 the project was abandoned after the apex court ordered the protection of Ram Sethu. The apex court on November 13, 2019, had granted six weeks to the Centre to clarify its stand on the Ram Sethu. It had also granted Swamy liberty to approach the court if the response of the Centre was not filed.
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