Centre has already admitted Ramar Sethu is sacred: Swamy
by the Legal Correspondent (The Hindu, 17 Oct. 2008)
"This demolishes counsel's averment that it is not an integral part of religion"
"Ridge like structure of Ramar Sethu is such that no dredging will be possible"
Damaging any sacred place is a cognisable criminal offence
New Delhi: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Thursday questioned the Centre's stand in the Supreme Court that Ramar Sethu was not an integral part of Hindu religion and that it was not an article of faith. In his written submissions, he said the Centre was giving dubious interpretations to the facts admitted earlier.
He said the sacredness and worship of Ramar Sethu had already been admitted by the Centre and judicially noticed by the Madras High Court, and that Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project Ltd was contemplating providing a viewing gallery, along the channel alignment, for pilgrims to visit Adam's Bridge (Ramar Sethu).
"This admission demolishes the stand of the Centre's counsel, especially the averment that Ramar Sethu is not integral part of Hindu religion."
On Thursday morning, Dr. Swamy made a mention before a Bench, headed by Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, that the Centre's stand was contrary to its submissions made in the court. However, Justice Balakrishnan asked him to file written submissions.
Dr. Swamy maintained that the administrative decision-making process in choosing Alignment 6, if implemented, "is illegal arbitrary, unreasonable, disproportionate, and is also vitiated by bias, conflict of interest, and fraudulent statistical data. The decision to pursue Alignment 6 calling for a rupture in Ramar Sethu be judicially invalidated. An alternative alignment or an alternative project if proposed and which does not call for damaging or destroying Ramar Sethu is, however, acceptable."
'No metaphysical jurisdiction'
He said "Ramar Sethu is built on a sharply rising ridge formation and it cannot be dredged through. It can only be exploded. That is, the ridge like structure of Ramar Sethu is such that no dredging is possible."
The sacredness of Ramar Sethu and the relevance in administrative decisions of respecting faith were subjective over which no court could have a metaphysical jurisdiction. Dr. Swamy asserted:
"It is a cognisable criminal offence under Section 295 of the IPC, viz. any damage, defilement, or destruction of any place of worship or of any object held sacred by any class of persons; with the knowledge that such class of persons is likely to consider such damage, defilement, or destruction as an insult to their religion."
He said: "Thus, implementing the project would be prima facie a cognisable offence, and therefore its commission cannot be permitted or sanctioned." He reiterated that Ramar Sethu should be declared a national monument.