Ram himself destroyed Setu, govt tells SC
A day after it won the trust vote, the UPA government on Tuesday acquiesced in DMK's position in the Sethusamudram case to question in the Supreme Court the existence of Ram Setu by citing the scriptures and Puranas.
Unperturbed by the withdrawal of its earlier affidavit doubting the existence of Ramayana, Lord Rama and their link to Ram Setu, which had created a furore, the Centre, through senior advocate Fali S Nariman, cited the ninth-century Ramayana of Kamban and also the "Padma Purana" to tell the court that if Lord Rama constructed Ram Setu, he had also destroyed it.
"So where is the Setu? We are not destroying any bridge. There is no bridge. It was not a man-made structure. It may be a superman-made structure, but the same superman had destroyed it. That is why for centuries nobody mentioned anything about it. It (Ram Setu) has become an object of worship only recently," he said.
Responding to petitioners' argument that Ram Sethu was a place of worship and that if it was breached it would no longer be fit for worship, senior advocate Fali S Nariman said: "The scriptures say it was already broken into several pieces by Lord Rama himself after the Rama-Ravana war. If that is so, it is already broken since time immemorial and hence it can no longer be a place of worship."
Presenting the Centre's stand on the issue before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal, the seasoned constitutional expert did not forget to inject diplomacy into his hard-hitting arguments.
He said if what had been said in the scriptures about the bridge was accepted, then the argument of faith would have no leg to stand on. "Do not mention faith then. We do not want to rupture the faith. But, even the Rameswaram temple, which is a very holy place, has not yet been declared an ancient monument," he said.
"We have to deal with the issue factually and legally in a court of law. So, do not scare people by stating 'faith' time and again," Nariman said and argued that the government had taken into account all possible studies, both in selecting the present alignment and the dredging site, after considering its effect on the marine biosphere in the Gulf of Mannar.
"Where was this faith when dredging was going on uninterrupted for two years since 2005? No one uttered a single objection, faith or otherwise, for two years. From where has this sudden awakening about the faith come? Even the AIADMK proposed the project in 2001 in its manifesto and won the TN elections," Nariman said. This drew loud protest from Jayalalithaa's counsel Guru Krishana Kumar, who said she had never proposed to breach the Setu.
Responding to the argument, the Bench said that in the 19th century there were nine plans on the Sethusamudram Channel Project and an additional five in the 20th century. "None of the proposals talk about cutting through Ram Sethu. That means there was a conscious attempt to avoid dredging Ram Sethu may be because it was a matter of faith," it said.
Suggesting scouting of an option including digging through the land mass to avoid the Ram Sethu if possible, the Bench said: "If there was no other alternative to the present alignment, it would have been a different matter altogether. But when alternatives are available, why not accommodate both faith and logic? If the controversy can be sorted out by balancing the two, why not."