Monday, May 12, 2008

Rama Leela: Rama Setu Protection Movement and Case in Supreme Court

Wrote Dr. S. Kalyanaraman:

Six coincidences

Cho Balakrishnan, a Congress MLA of Ramanathapuram District went to break the coconut inaugurating Setusamudram project work. He had a heart attack and died the same evening.

The Aquarium dreger of Dredging International of Belgium was engaged to break the Rama Setu. Its spud broke and the 50-tonne elephant like metal scrap is still lying on Sandbank 6 of Rama Setu unsalvaged.

A crane named Hanuman was brought from Dredging Corporation of India in VIshakapatnam to recover the broken spud. The Hanuman crane which could lift upto 200tonnes also broke and had to return.

A dredger of DCI sank in the Bay of Bengal even before reaching Rama Setu.

A Russian engineer and a foreign dredger were brought to continue the effort to break Rama Setu. The engineer broke both his legs and had to be hospitalized in Apollo Hospital.

Tamilnadu Congress President Mr. Krishnaswami was attacked by unknown assailants on his way from Rama Setu towards Madurai. An attempted stabbing was foiled by the Rama medallion he wore on his gold chain. His family members attributed this saving of his life by Rama medallion.

Stay order in SC

Reliable and authentic information was received from a number of sources that plans were in place to blast through Rama Setu since attempts at dredging using dredgers had failed.

The sources were: Naval High Command, Scientists and experts knowledgeable about blasting operations, a photographer who was assigned to photograph the specific spots on Rama Setu where blasting explosives were to be implanted. Information from all the sources were confirmed on the day the Sri Rama Maha Yajna was being conducted in Rameshwaram close to Rama Setu.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy put all this information on a one-page affidavit and went to the SC Registrar (Shri Shah) requesting for listing a hearing on the affidavit. The Registrar expressed his inability to list the case immediately in the absence of and since the Chief Justice Mr. Balakrishnan had been deputed on a tour to South Africa. He was asked whether any other senior judge could act on behalf of the CJI. That Senior-most judge was Justice BN Agarwal who was then contacted with the requested. The Justice asked Mr. Shah what was the problem in listing the case for hearing. Upon hearing Mr. Shah's response, Justice Agarwal asked, 'Does the Constitution come to a stand-still because CJI is on tour? Please list the case that day, that afternoon.'

The case was listed as the last item of the day. The affidavit was the only piece of paper with the Judges BN Agarwal and Naolekar. Govt. Counsel was asked if he denied the averments in the affidavit. The Counsel was asked if he would give an undertaking that no blasting would be done on Rama Setu because the petitioners claimed that blasting Rama Setu would render the petitions infructuous. The Counsel refused to give such an undertaking. Stay order was given that no damage should be caused to Rama Setu while implementing the Setu project.

Highlights in SC

'Bhoomaata is sacred, trees are sacred, mountains are sacred, Ganga is sacred. Does it mean that no trees can be cut, no stone can be taken from the mountains and no bridge built on Ganga?' was the question by a judge the Bench. Senior Counsel, Soli Sorabjee responded: 'What a stupid question to ask.' And went on to elaborate on the restrictions placed on SC by Article 25 of the Constitution which guaranteed Religious Freedom. SC had no competence to question issues of Faith and Worship. Rama Setu was a sacred monument and was a place of worship. Another Senior Counsel Parasaran went on to explain the nature of the worship according to the sacred texts.

'What is the problem? Only 300 m. channel is sought to be furrowed in a structure of over 35 kms.' Response by the Counsel for the petitioners: Not even a centimetre of Rama Setu can be touched because the character of the monument as a bridge (that is, Setu) will be destroyed by cutting a furrowed channel.

Bench asked Senior Counsel Parasaran: 'How come you are on this side of the courtroom?' (referring to the fact that he was arguing the case for the petitioners in stead of representing the Union of India). The Counsel responded: 'I am at the fag-end of my career and life. This may be one of the few last cases I will appear for. I go to Rameshwaram at least 3 times every year and near by native village, Devipattinam. I offer prayers to Rama Setu by drawing a dhanush at Dhanushkodi, making a Shivalinga out of the sacred lands, doing sankalpa, abhishekam and immersing the linga after puja in the ocean. This is an opportunity for me to serve dharma. This is also an opportunity for the Court to participate in the protection of Dharma.'

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