Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s request that the Centre be told to make the Ram Setu a national heritage site. On January 19, the top court told Swamy to talk to the Centre about his case and told him he could come back to court if he wasn’t happy with how things turned out.
Thursday, Swamy went back to court and told the bench led by the Chief Justice of India, D. Y. Chandrachud, about his prayer.
As part of a five-judge Constitution Bench, CJI Chandrachud is hearing some cases right now. These cases include the power crisis in Maharashtra, which was caused by a split in the Shiv Sena, and the disagreements between the Delhi government and the Centre over control of services. CJI Chandrachud said that the court will hear it after the Constitution Bench cases are done.
In response to Swamy’s request, the Centre’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court on January 19 that the “process is on.”
The bench wrote down what Mehta said, which was that “the process is currently going on in the Ministry of Culture, and if the petitioner wants to, he can also send any extra information or communication he wants…” It had also said, “The court may be told how the process ended and what, if anything, was done about it.”
Ram Setu, also called Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
The leader of the BJP said that he had already won the first round of the lawsuit because the Centre had agreed that Ram Setu existed. Swamy’s PIL against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, which was started by the UPA-I government, brought up the idea of making the Ram Setu a national monument.
The matter went all the way up to the highest court, which stopped work on the Ram Setu project in 2007.
Later, the Centre said that it had thought about the “socio-economic disadvantages” of the project and was willing to look into a different way to build the shipping channel without hurting the Ram Setu. In an affidavit, the Indian government said, “In the interest of the country, the Government of India plans to look for an alternative to the original alignment of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project that does not affect or damage the Adam’s Bridge/Ram Sethu.”
The court then told the government that it needed to file a new affidavit.
Some political parties, environmentalists, and Hindu religious groups have been against the Sethusamudram shipping channel project. Under the plan, an 83-km waterway was to be built to connect Mannar to the sea.