New Delhi, Aug 4: The Supreme Court of India on Monday, Aug 4 threatened to issue arrest warrants against M Karunanidhi, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T R Baalu and four others for failing to respond to a contempt notice on the Sethusamudram bandh row.
However, four weeks time has been given to Karunanidhi, Baalu, and four others to file their fresh replies to the show cause notice issued by it. A bench, comprising Justice B N Aggrawal and Justice G S Singhvi, took a serious view after noting that the Chief Minister and others failed to file their reply to the contempt notice issued by it in the first week of October last year. Regretting that the Tamil Nadu Government has been seeking time and adjournments frequently for filing the response on a show cause notice, the bench pointed out that the condemners sought four weeks time to file their replies on March 31 this year but failed to do so.
Earlier, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief and Opposition leader J Jayalalithaa had complained that response to the show cause notice on contempt was filed only on July 30. After fresh request from the Tamil Nadu Counsel, the apex court had then granted four more weeks' time to file replies on the contempt notices.
In October 2007, the apex court had issued contempt notices to Karunanidhi, Baalu, state Chief Secretary, DGP and two others for going ahead with the October 1 statewide bandh on the Sethusamudram issue despite the bench restraining them.
The apex court had also threatened to recommend the President of India to dismiss the State Government at that time.
It may be recalled that the SC had stopped the construction work at the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project after a number of writ petition were filed seeking stoppage of demolition of the Ram Seth, a mythological bridge believed to have been constructed by Lord Rama.
Tamil Nadu's ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies had called a statewide general strike on October 1 to press for the speedy implementation of the Sethusamudram project.
The 560-million dollar project, approved by the Government in 2005, plans to dredge a channel in a narrow strip of sea between India and Sri Lanka, reducing distances and cutting costs for freight traffic.
When the project is finished, ships sailing between India's Western and Eastern coasts will not have to go around the south of Sri Lanka, and is expected to save up to 36 hours of sailing time which would strengthen the Country's economy by expanding International and maritime trade.
Hindu groups have been opposing the project, saying it would destroy the 'holy' Ram Setu, a 48-kilometre chain of limestone shoals that once linked Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to Mannar in Sri Lanka.