New Delhi, Mar 5: The Supreme Court on Wednesday fixed April 15 as the next date for the hearing of the petition against the controversial Sethusamudram project, asking parties opposing it to file their reply to the fresh affidavit filed by the Centre.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, who heard the matter, said that it would decide on April 15 the next date for the hearing. On February 29, the Centre had filed a fresh affidavit in the apex court on the project seeking vacation of its interim orders putting on hold any damage to "Ram Setu."
The 60-page affidavit, cleared by the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the government respects all religions but was of view that it should not be called upon to respond to issues of faith, except in recognising their existence.
The amended affidavit assumes significance as it has been filed after the Centre in September last withdrew its two affidavits in which it had questioned the existence of Lord Ram and "Ram Setu".
Following an outcry led by the Sangh Parivar over the controversial affidavit, the apex court on September 14, 2007 had allowed the Centre re-examine entire materials afresh to review the Rs 2,087 crore project.
However, it had continued the operation of its August 31 interim order restraining any damage to "Rama Setu" or Adams Bridge, a mythical bridge situated south-east off Rameshwaram, connecting the Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka.
The court in its interim order had allowed the dredging activity for the project to the extent that it did not in anyway damage the "Rama Setu" or Adams Bridge.
While withdrawing the affidavits, the Centre had said, "it has total respect for all religions, and Hinduism in particular, in the context of the present case. The Central government is alive and conscious of the religious sensibilities, including the unique, ancient and holy text of Ramayana".