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SC takes exception to Jaya's petition on Ram Sethu
January 28, 2008 19:20 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday took strong exception to former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's petition against the Centre's decision to go ahead with the Sethusamudram project by destroying the Ram Sethu.
The court, while clubbing her petition for hearing with other cases on the issue, was anguished that cases were being filed against the project, three years after it was cleared in 2005.
"Nobody had ever seen the structure. Nobody had ever thought of declaring it as a national monument. The petition coming from Jayalalithaa is surprising," a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.
The court's remarks were in response to one of the prayers in Jayalalithaa's petition that the Ram Sethu or Adams Bridge, a barrier located south-east of Rameshwaram, which connects Talaimanar coast of Sri Lanka [Images], be declared as a national monument. "Several matters are pending in this court on it (Ram Sethu)," the bench, also comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and R V Raveendran, said.
The bench added that to declare Ram Sethu as a national monument, the former chief minister can approach the appropriate authority.
Following the court's observations, senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief, preferred to withdraw the prayer. The court stated that Jayalalithaa's petition can be heard along with other pending petitions.
At the outset, when Venugopal submitted that national security was also involved in the matter, the bench queried, "How many petitions can be filed on one subject?"
The senior advocate said that Jayalalithaa has approached the court in the capacity of a representative of the people. Reminding that the project was cleared in March 2005, the bench observed, "A public figure files petition after three years".
The former chief minister has sought to restrain the Centre from destroying the Ram Sethu, claiming the issue involves public sentiments and its destruction would impinge upon national security.
The petition filed in September last year had quoted extensively from various historical literature and compilations on the Ram Sethu. The AIADMK chief, in her petition, cautioned that destruction of the barrier would expose the country to a security threat from the US.
She submitted that India and Sri Lanka had always claimed territorial right to the Palk Bay, Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Straits, but the US has objected to such claims and described these as international waters.
The court, on September 14 last year, had granted three months' time to the Centre to review the Rs 2,087 crore project and put on hold the demolition of Ram Sethu. Later, on January 16, the court had granted two more weeks to the Centre to present its affidavit.
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 Ram Sethu.
Earlier, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and a few others had approached the apex court against the alleged decision of the Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd, to use explosives to blow up the Ram Sethu. A number of petitions, some of them transferred from the Madras High Court to the apex court, have objected to the project on the ground of environmental concerns