The Centre on Thursday refused to take any stand on the issue of declaring Ram Setu a national monument and asked the Supreme Court instead to decide it.

Appearing before a bench headed by justices H L Dattu and Anil R Dave, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Haren Raval submitted that the government after consultations on the issue has decided that it would not take any stand on it.

He said the government would stand by its earlier affidavit, filed in 2008, in which it had said that the government respects all religions but it was of view that it should not be called upon to respond to the issues of faith, except in recognising their existence.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy seeking the court’s direction to declare Ram Setu a national monument.

The apex court earlier on March 29 had granted two weeks to the Centre to take a stand on the issue.

“If you say you don’t want to file counter affidavit, we can go ahead with the arguments in the case,” the bench had said.

The case relating to Ram Setu came under judicial scrutiny due to a bunch of petitions filed in the apex court against the ambitious Sethusamudram project, whose execution allegedly was to damage the mythological bridge.

Sethusamudram project is aimed at constructing a shorter navigational route around India’s southern tip by breaching the Ram Setu, said to have been built by Lord Rama’s army of monkeys and bears to the demon king Ravana’s kingdom Lanka.

As per the Sethusamudram project, the shipping channel is proposed to be 30 metres wide, 12 metres deep and 167 km long.

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