NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday again requested the apex court to decide on the issue of declaring the Rama Sethu as a national monument. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Hiren Raval, appearing before a Bench comprising Justice H L Dattu and Justice Anil R Dave, stated that the government, after several consultations on the issue, had come to the conclusion that it would not take any stand on it.
The government would stand by its earlier affidavit, filed in 2008, in which it had stated that it respected all religions, but was of the view that it should not be called upon to respond to the issues of faith, except in recognising their existence.
The amended affidavit was filed after the Centre had withdrawn its two earlier affidavits in which it had questioned the very existence of Lord Ram and the Rama Sethu.
There was a huge public outcry after this affidavit questioning the existence of Lord Ram was filed and the apex court had, on September 14, 2007, allowed the Centre to re-examine all the materials afresh to review the Rs 2,087-crore project.
It was on March 29 this year that the apex court granted two weeks to the Centre to take a stand on the issue.
“If you say you don’t want to file a counter affidavit, we can go ahead with the arguments in the case,” the Bench had said.
The case came under judicial scrutiny when a batch of petitions were filed in the apex court questioning the ambitious Sethusamudram project.
The case of the petitioners was that the execution of the Sethusamudram project would damage the mythological bridge.
The Centre’s idea was that the Sethusamudram project would help in a shorter navigational route around India’s southern tip by breaching the Rama Sethu, said to have been built by Lord Rama’s army of monkeys and bears to Lanka.
The shipping channel is proposed to be of 30 metres width, 12 metres depth and 167 km length.
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who sought a direction from the court to declare Rama Sethu as a national monument.