Legal Correspondent

Swamy seeks to implead T.R. Baalu in his personal capacity

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on April 30 the Centre’s application for vacating the interim stay restraining it from causing any damage to Ramar Sethu (Adam’s Bridge) in implementing the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project.

The court will also take up for hearing Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy’s plea for a direction to invalidate the project and to appoint a committee to consider it afresh.

Acting on his application, the court on August 31, 2007 passed the restraint order, while permitting dredging to continue in other areas. In its response, the Centre made it clear that it was not feasible to consider an alignment alternative to the existing one. On Monday, senior counsel Fali Nariman and Additional Solicitor-General R. Mohan, appearing for the Centre, told a three-judge Bench that the matter could be heard on Wednesday as the first item. (The matter is shown at the bottom of the list for hearing on Tuesday).

Dr. Swamy and counsel for other petitioners agreed and the Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Mukundakam Sharma, fixed the hearing for Wednesday.

Dr. Swamy, in his application filed on Monday, sought permission to implead Union Minister T.R. Baalu in his personal capacity, alleging that there was a conflict of interest between his business interests and impartial performance of duties as Minister for Shipping and Surface Transport. He alleged that the Minister was pushing through the project as two companies — Meenam Fisheries and Westgate Logistics — managed by his sons had close links with it.

Rama Gopalan plea

Meanwhile, Hindu Munnani leader Rama Gopalan, who had filed a petition along with Dr. Swamy, in his rejoinder to the Centre’s affidavit, said the National Institute of Oceanography in cooperation with the Archaeological Survey of India should be asked to undertake an underwater survey to declare Ramar Sethu an ancient monument. Until then, it must not be damaged.

The rejoinder said: “Ramar Sethu is not a mere stone or body or cave of water as claimed by the Centre. It inheres [in it] the very essence of the identity of the nation.”