Why should Rama Setu be protected? – a para-legal excursus
Here is an account of the happenings in the Supreme Court on Rama Setu protection case and the consequent introspections on why Rama Setu should be protected despite the bogus, baseless arguments advanced on grounds of non-existent abhyudayam.
When Court asked Senior Advocate Shri Parasaran as to why he was arguing on ‘this’ side (that is, the side of the petitioners seeking protection of Rama Setu and hence, Dharma), he responded emotionally that he is at the fag-end of his life and career and this was an opportunity provided for him to protect dharma and he also told the Court that this was an opportunity for the Court also to participate in this sacred responsibility of protecting dharma.
When Court asked Dr. Subramanian Swamy how SC can overcome the jurisdiction problem of questioning policy decisions or economic issues, Dr. Swamy responded effectively and convincingly that it was incumbent on the court to intervene when a fraud or gross illegality can be demonstrated that the economic viability of the project was a fiction created with baseless data and that the project was fradulent. He went on to demonstrate that the project will be in the red for Rs. 56 crores in Year 1 and Rs. 150 crores in Year 9 and thereafter using the figures given by the Union of India in their documents. These losses are, in fact, understatements. The actual losses will be much larger if social costs are reckoned (as required under law), if maintenance dredging costs are fairly computed and if security costs (both capital and maintenance costs) are included in the project costs. Dr. Swamy also demonstrated the need to make Hon’ble TR Baalu a respondent because of conflict of interest with involvement in stevedoring or marine product export companies.
Senior Advocate Soli Sorabjee responded effectively to the stupid question which stated that the bhumaata is sacred, the mountains are sacred, Ganga is sacred, trees are sacred that this perception should not stop removal of stones or building of bridges. This was rebutted effectively citing the responsibility of the State under Article 25 to protect Religious Freedom and not to destroy, by desecration, the very character of the Rama Setu which is a bridge built by Rama to establish dharma. Not an inch, not a piece of rock from this ancient monument can be touched by any power on earth. Section 295 of Criminal Procedure Code makes it a cognizable offence to offend the sentiments of crores of Hindus worldwide. The Court was also told that Ganga Sagar and Sethu are places of worship in the Indian Ocean. Skandapurana which is the sacred text of identified teerthasthaanas and puja vidhaanam prescribed the worship of Rama Setu and the s’ivalinga installed in the middle of Rama Setu uttering Setumadhava and Ramanatha (Ashtakshari and Panchakshari mantras) and walking on the Setu. Every ashadha amavasya day every year, over 5 lakh pilgrims gather at the Setu tirtham and offer tarpanam to pitrus – ancestors are worshipped with the sankalpa which starts: Sri rama rama rameti… He is Maryada purushottama, Ramayana is the aadi kaavya, There can be no Ramayana without Setubandhana which is the very symbol of what can be accomplished with will and determination and the symbol of establishment and protection of dharma. This is a memory venerating Sri Rama as vigrahavaan dharmah (the very embodiment of dharma), the paramaatman in the role of an avatara to demonstrate dharma in action.
The battle is just joined. The Setu has to be declared as an Ancient Monument and World Heritage. Setu which has protected the nation’s coastline and symbolizes the unity and integrity of the nation cannot be desecrated like the Taliban demolishing the Bamiyan Buddha calling it mere stone. Setu also makes us remember Sri Rama, Vigrahavaan dharma, the very embodiment of dharma. Setu is not mere stone bridge, it is the very identity, the very core of Sanatana Dharma from time immemorial, the very embodiment of Dharma identity. It just cannot be touched even by cutting a one centimetre furrow.
So many multi-disciplinary issues were joined in the court proceedings. Over 8000 pages of evidence and arguments and case laws were presented. The Court had the obligation to recognize the enormity and stupendous nature of this continuum of faith, belief and worship and respect the sentiments of crores of people, as a civil society and restoring the confidence of the people in the institutions which they have created to run this samajam. A fence cannot be allowed to eat away the crop. Institutions exist only at the service of and at the responsibilities entrusted to these institutions by the people.
Many teams of persons have contributed to this extraordinary Hindu unity and effort. Starting with Shri D. Kuppuramu who founded the Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement, Senior Advocate Shri TV Ramanujam, counsel for Shri Rama Gopalan of Hindu Munnani and Dr. Subramanian Swamy who got the Chief Justice of Madras High Court to issue the directions of HC on 19 June 2007 asking for the declaration of Rama Setu as an Ancient Monument and to ask for proceeding with any project without demolishing or desecrating Rama Setu has just been reconfirmed by the highest court of the land by the directions issued on these two momentous issues.
The directions are historic and let us hope that one of the institutions which we have given to ourselves, respects the Law of the land and does not play games with the directions (as was done by withdrawing the bogus affidavit of ASI and thereafter making false promises unfulfilled).
The responsibility is enormous to use this opportunity given to us by Sri Rama to educate the youngest nation of the world, the 35% of the population which is less than 15 years of age, to realize the great heritage of Dharma and the importance and significance of the two great Itihaasas, Ramayana, the Aadi kaavya and Mahabharata. Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Sri Mahes’vara united north and south, east and west and across every nook and corner of Bharata Varsha. They adorn the lithographed version of the Constitution of India published by the Govt. of India with exquisite illustrations by the artist, Shri Nandalal Bose.
No institution, not even the Supreme Court, can pass on the buck and refuse to entertain issues related to National security citing jurisdictional boundaries. In this case, ample evidence was provided on the national security implications of any decision to desecrate Rama Setu and the social upheaval that such a move will entail, destroying the very fabric of the samajam and the constitutional framework which we have given to ourselves.
The State cannot abdicate its responsibility to protect the ancient heritage by citing dubious investigation problems. The evidence is overwhelming: Rama Setu is a sacred place, a world heritage. Until this is recognized by one and all — the organizations of governance and jurisprudence, the movement shall continue with redoubled vigour and determination. It is the court of the people that the protection of Rama Setu will be ensured. This is an occasion to recognise the possibility and ensure that it happens – the construction of a temple for Sri Rama in Ramajanmabhumi. As Srilanka, our neighbour, looks towards Bharatam, as the Indian Ocean Community beckons, let this be the start and renewal of Dharma renaissance, a start for Marine Economic Zones to benefit all the coastal people and lead to abhyudayam in their livelihood as a socio-cultural-ecomic imperative.
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman
Can Ram Setu be monument, asks SC
PNS/ Agencies | New Delhi
Explore alternative route, Govt told
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Union Government to consider holding an archaeological survey to ascertain whether the Ram Setu can be declared an “ancient monument”. The court also asked the Centre to examine the possibility of carrying out the project through other alignments.
“There is a specific direction of the Madras High Court that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should carry investigations whether Ram Setu is an ancient monument or not,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said. “You also explore the possibility of carrying out the project through any other channels (alignments),” the Bench, also comprising Justices RV Raveendran and JM Panchal, said.
The Supreme Court’s order has come as an encouragement for the groups opposed to destruction of the Ram Setu. Janata Party president Subramanium Swamy, a petitioner in the case, told The Pioneer that the apex court’s order was binding on the Government in the light of the recent Madras High Court order.
The matter will come up for further hearing on July 22. The Bench said that in the interregnum, the Centre could consider these two aspects as directed by the High Court on June 19 last year. Appearing for the Centre to defend the controversial project, senior advocate Fali S Nariman responded positively to the court’s view.
Arguing against the demolition of the Ram Setu, Swamy, senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan and others contended that there was a possibility of going ahead with the project through alternative alignments, which would be economically more viable and cause no damage to environment. It would also protect the religious faith of Hindus who consider the structure as sacred, they submitted.
Swamy, who has filed the petition for declaring Ram Setu a protected monument, had alleged that the Government-appointed expert committee resisted the ASI probe that the structure was man-made. While the senior politician was questioning the committee report, the Bench said his request in the petition was confined only to the Ram Setu but he was arguing on entire Sethusamudram project. At this Swamy said, “If I prove that the project is illegal, then the Ram Setu will be protected.” He would stop if the Centre forthrightly said that Ram Setu would be protected, he added.
The Janata Party chief said he was touching other aspects of the project as the entire economics projected in the scheme was a “fraud” and public money was being misused and the public being misled. Further, India had failed to comply with international obligation on the project by not taking the Sri Lankan Government into confidence as the scheme had implications on the maritime boundary, he added.
He said the Sri Lankan authorities were watching the outcome of the proceedings in the apex court and Colombo may drag India to International Court of Justice, The Hague, seeking independent probe about the environmental impact of the project.
The 34-member advisory committee group constituted by the Sri Lankan Government has concluded that environment impact assessment by India on the Sethusamudram project was inadequate, the Janata Party president claimed.