11, November 2022
The Supreme Court on November 10, 2022 gave the Centre four weeks’ time to file a response clarifying its stand on a plea by former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy to declare the ‘ Ram Setu a National Heritage Monument’.
“Why are you dragging your feet?” Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud asked the government side, which sought an adjournment when the case came up for hearing.
Mr. Swamy said the issue was “simple”. “They just have to say whether they want it or not,” he submitted.
The government counsel said the reply was ready but was waiting for approval from the Ministry concerned.
The court gave Mr. Swamy two weeks to file his rejoinder after the Centre filed its reply.
Dr. Swamy had filed a PIL against the Centre’s Sethusamudram Canal project, initiated when the UPA-1 was in power at the Centre. The project envisaged creation of a 83-km-long deep water channel, linking Mannar with Palk Strait, by dredging and removing the limestone shoals that formed part of the Ram Setu.
The SC had stayed the work for the project in 2007.
In March 2018, the Union Shipping Ministry in an affidavit told the court that the government “does not want to implement” the proposed “alignment…considering” its “socio-economic disadvantages”.
The affidavit added that “the Government of India intends to explore an alternative to the earlier alignment of Sethusamudram Ship Channel project without affecting or damaging the Adam’s bridge/Ram Setu in the interest of the nation.”