SC suggests alternative alignment in Sethusamudram Project

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New Delhi, May 8 (UNI) The Supreme Court today suggested to the Central government to consider an alternative alignment for the completion of Sethusamudram canal to avoid any controversy so that Ram Setu is neither destroyed nor demolished.

Senior counsel F S Nariman appearing for the Central government agreed to convey the suggestion of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan to the government for due consideration.

Earlier in the day, former Union Law Minister and Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy prayed to the three-Judge bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrisnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal to refer the petitions to the five-judge constitution bench for an authoritative pronouncement on the issue.

Dr Swamy also prayed to the court to direct the government to go back to the drawing board to redo the entire exercise all over again fairly, honestly and sincerly and get back to the court.

The Janata Party president also pleaded for issuing notice to Union Shipping and Transport Minister T R Baalu, to initiate contempt of court proceedings against him for making derogatory and contemptous remarks against the sitting judge Justice B N Agrawal for dragging the Tamil Nadu government into the controversy while directing the authorities, on August 31, last year, not to damage Ram Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge, in any manner while carrying out dredging activities for completion of Sethusamudram canal project.

Dr Swamy made it clear before the court that his only concern was the protection of Ram Setu and if the Central government was prepared to give an undertaking that the 25-km long Setu shall not be demolished, he would immediately withdraw his petition .

The former Union Minister also prayed to the court to make Mr Baalu a party in the case as the DMK leader and his family members were the main beneficiaries in about Rs 2400 crore project .

The court while adjourning the hearing till July 22 , told the Central government ''you can explore the possibility of an alternative alignment for the canal. By this the government would like to avoid the controversy.'' Another senior counsel M N Krisnamani also opposed the government's move to use alignment six which involves the demolition of Ram Setu and pleaded for declaration of Ram Setu as a monument of national heritage as it involves the religious faith and belief of Hindus across the globe. According to belief, Ram Setu was constructed by Lord Rama to reach Sri Lanka to retrieve his wife Sita from the cluches of Ravana and any interference with this belief would violate the fundamental right of freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.

UNI SC JT RP CS1732

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