The Supreme Court on Thursday granted time to the Centre to file its reply in the plea by former Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy seeking national heritage status to the Ram Setu by the first week of February. The plea, filed by Swamy, seeks directions to the Centre to declare ‘Ram Setu’ as a national heritage monument.
A bench of Chief Justice of India and Justice PS Narasimha posted the matter for hearing in the second week of February.
Swamy, who first raised the demand in his 2007 plea against the Sethu Samundram Ship Channel project, reminded the Supreme Court that the Centre was yet to file its counter-affidavit in the matter. He told the court that the Solicitor General had made a commitment to file the Centre’s counter by December 12, but had failed to honour it.
When questioned by the CJI on Swamy’s submission, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the reply was under consideration. “It is under consideration. Discussion is going on. Kindly have it in the first week of February,” he replied.
Swamy, however, countered the SG and urged the court to summon the Cabinet Secretary since the Solicitor Genral had earlier said that the counter-affidavit had already been prepared, and was now suggesting otherwise.
The CJI, however, refused to summon the Cabinet Secretary and asked the Centre to file its reply by the first week of February and posted the matter for hearing in the second week.
In 2007, Swamy had challenged the Sethu Samundram Ship Channel project, which envisages the creation of an 83-km-long channel to link Mannar and Palk Strait by extensive dredging, on grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the Ram Setu.
Located off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, Ram Setu is a bridge which is a chain of limestone shoals which runs from Pamban Island near Rameshwaram in South India to Mannar Island, off the northern coast of Sri Lanka. The bridge finds mention in the Hindu epic Ramayana and is believed to have been constructed by Lord Ram to reach Sri Lanka to rescue Sita.