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Centre gets 2 weeks to file affidavit on Ramar Sethu

Legal Correspondent

Swamy quotes Tamil Nadu plea in jallikattu case


Centre will file comprehensive reply: Attorney-General

It should contain statement if any probe was held: Swamy


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted two weeks to the Centre for filing an affidavit on the ‘Ramar Sethu’ issue. This follows the submission of a report by an expert committee, which considered the feasibility of various alignments for implementation of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, to the Union government.

A Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal adjourned the hearing on a batch of petitions filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and others challenging the project, after Attorney-General Milon Banerjee sought two weeks for the government to file a comprehensive reply.

Dr. Swamy said the Madras High Court had, on the transferred petitions, directed the Centre to carry out an investigation whether Ramar Sethu could be declared a national monument by the Archaeological Survey of India.

He said the Centre filed an affidavit in September last but withdrew it following people’s protest (against certain averments) and was yet to file a fresh one.

Dr. Swamy said the Centre, while filing the reply, must say whether any such investigation was carried out.

Religious sentiments

Referring to the submissions made in the court on Tuesday on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government, Dr. Swamy pointed out that Tamil Nadu had said religious sentiments were attached to “jallikattu (taming the bull).” “If the same yardstick was applied, then Ramar Sethu cannot be touched.”

“Biosphere reserve zone”

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal and Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for some of the petitioners, said the entire Gulf of Mannar had been declared a biosphere reserve zone.

If dredging continued, it would result in damage to the biosphere, they said, and sought permission to file additional documents.

Advocate V.P. Sharma, who too filed a petition, said the court had allowed dredging activities without damaging Ramar Sethu.

He urged the court to stop all dredging activities.

Intervening, the Chief Justice said: “Then it is a question whether the entire project itself has to be stopped.”

Dr. Swamy said the entire project had to be stopped and that he would file additional documents in support of this demand.

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