Rama Setu: not part of Hinduism, not a place of worship; Govt. tells SC
Govt. of India led by UPA chairperson Sonia gandhi and their counsel F. Nariman have lost their credibility, to put it mildly.
What does it take to win fat fees from the exchequer? Any lie goes? Even on sworn affidavits?
Ram Setu not part of Hinduism: Govt tells SC
Published on Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 16:11 in Nation section
BRIDGE IN TROUBLED WATERS: Tamil Nadu CM is adamant on Sethusamudram project .
New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court the Ram Setu, which many Hindus believe was the bridge Lord Ram built to cross over to Lanka, was not an integral part of the religion.
The Centre’s affidavit also said the Setu, a 48-km long chain of limestone shoals, was destroyed by Lord Ram himself and is not a place of worship as claimed by some Hindu groups.
The groups say the Sethusamudram shipping canal project, which proposes building a shipping canal between India and Sri Lanka, would destroy the Setu.
The Government referred to Kamba Ramayana written by Tamil saint Kambar to support its claim. The affidavit is surprising, as the Government is examining an alternative alignment for the channel project upon a directive from the Supreme Court.
Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy and several other organisations have filed pleas before the Supreme Court claiming Ram Setu is a place of worship and sacred to Hindus. The petitioners claim Lord Rama and his army built the Setu to reach Sri Lanka to rescue his wife.
The Centre has appointed a six-member committee to examine if an alternative route for the Sethusamudram project can be taken to save the Setu. The court is awaiting the report of the six-member committee.
The Sethusamudram project
The Sethusamudram shipping canal project proposes linking the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal.
The project involves dredging 82.5 million cubic metres of the Adam's Bridge or the Ram Setu. When completed, the canal will be 167 km long and its estimated cost is approximately Rs 2,427 cores.
This is the country's first effort at dredging a navigation channel that is 30-40 kilometres offshore. The project promises to save travel time and cost drastically.
As of now, ships traversing from India's east coast to the west coast have to circumnavigate Sri Lanka due to this bridge located southeast of Rameswaram.
Once the canal is ready, ships can navigate through the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay, and enter the Bay of Bengal directly, thereby reducing the distance for ships by 780 km and sailing time by up to 30 hours.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 3:47 PM
Ram Sethu not a place of worship: Centre
New Delhi, Oct 14: The Congress-led UPA government has filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court on the controversial Ram Sethu issue. In the 100-page affidavit, reportedly filed on October 11, the Centre claims that Ram Sethu, or Adam’s Bridge as it is popularly known, is not a place of worship as being claimed by many religious groups and political parties.
The Centre further says that Ram Sethu is not an integral part of Hinduism and repeated its earlier claim that it no longer exists. According to the affidavit, which contains replies to various petitions filed in favour of the Ram Sethu, including by J Jayalalitha’s AIADMK, Lord Ram had himself destroyed the bridge while returning from Ravan’s Lanka (present day Sri Lanka).
Intriguingly, the Centre, which has formed a six-member committee headed by noted environmentalist Rajendra Pachouri to explore the new alignment but chose to file the latest affidavit even before the committee could come out with its findings.
Moreover, the development came days after the Centre set in motion the process of examining an alternative alignment of the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) following a directive from the Supreme Court.
In the first week of this month, a team of engineers had commenced a survey of the area to work out an alternative alignment.
A total of six alignments were suggested since the project was conceived. One alignment chosen was stoutly opposed by political parties, including the BJP and Shiv Sena, as it cut through the Ram Sethu.
In July also, the Centre had told the SC that it had concluded Ram Sethu does not fulfil the criteria for being declared a national monument.
(Vide www.zeenews.com dated October 14, 2008)
Ramar Sethu is not an integral part of Hindu religion: Centre
Special Correspondent (The Hindu, 15 Oct. 2008)
Hence, it does not require protection under Articles 25 and 26
Religious texts show that the bridge was built and broken by Lord Rama himself
Petitioner’s counsel Parasaran himself argued that anything broken could not be worshipped
New Delhi: Even as it awaits the R.K. Pachauri committee report on an alternative route for the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, the Centre has reiterated in the Supreme Court that Ramar Sethu is not an integral part of Hindu religion requiring protection under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution (dealing with right to freedom of religion).
The court, while reserving verdict on July 30 on the petitions filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and others challenging the implementation of the Sethusamudram project by demolishing Adam’s Bridge (Ramar Sethu), asked the parties to file written submissions. The court said the judgment would be pronounced after the experts panel submitted its report. Accordingly, the Centre filed its written submissions.
Response to petitioners
The Centre said: “Ramar Sethu does not form an integral or essential part of Hindu religion. A religious belief or practice which is not an essential and integral part of the religion is not protected by Articles 25 and 26.” This was in response to the petitioners’ argument that the destruction of Ramar Sethu would cause irreparable damage to Hindus’ religious sentiments.
Referring to the argument by senior counsel K. Parasaran (for one of the petitioners) that Ramar Sethu could not be touched as it was sacred, the Centre said: “The religious texts relied [upon] by him themselves showed that the bridge had been built and had been broken by Lord Rama himself.” Mr. Parasaran had also argued that anything broken could not be worshipped.
The Centre said the petitioner did not prove that Lord Rama himself did not break the bridge. “Nor has it been established that whatever remains of Ramar Sethu as a place of worship is an essential and integral part of the Hindu religion.”
Quoting Gazetteer of Southern India 1855, the Centre said that after returning from Sri Lanka upon His victory over Ravana, Lord Rama “took his heavy bow and with it made several breaches in the bridge so wide that nobody could pass over it on foot.”
Seeking dismissal of the petitions, the Centre said geological evidence “shows that this gap was once a bridge and it was breached during the violent storms in 1480. Operations for removing the obstacles in the channel and for deepening and widening it were begun in 1838.”
Swamy objects to Centre`s move in SC on Sethu project
Chennai, Oct 14: Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday criticised the Centre's move to submit written submissions in the Supreme Court in the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project case, without informing principal parties in the case like him.
In a statement here, he said counsel for the Union Government had made a mention in the Supreme Court of the government's intention on the case without informing the parties concerned, which, he said, was an 'unethical behaviour' in the code of law.
These written submission did not add any weight to the argument already made by the government in the court, he said.
"What is clear, though, is that the government continues to maintain that Ramar Sethu is not an essential part of Hindu religion. The law is clear and explicit, namely, that what is to be held sacred is decided by a sizeable section of the people and not by any government or court," he said.