New Delhi : The Supreme Court Wednesday had to contend with a blunt answer to its poser as to who goes to the Rama Sethu in the sea to worship it. “We all worship the sun. But we don’t go to the sun to worship it,” said former union minister Subramanian Swamy.
Speaking before the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Swamy passionately opposed the proposed construction of a shorter navigational sea route around the Indian peninsula if it involved the destruction of the Rama Sethu or Adam’s Bridge.
The bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, wanted to know last week if anyone takes to the sea to reach the Rama Sethu to worship it if it indeed had religious value.
The Janata Party president argued against the proposed breaching of the Rama Sethu due to dredging and its fallout on economy, environment and security besides of course the religious sensibilities of Hindus.
He narrated a series of five “strange coincidences” that occurred after a Dutch dredging machine deployed to breach the Rama Sethu broke down.
When a crane was pressed into service to retrieve the broken arms of the dredging machine from the sea, that too broke down, said Swamy.
The authorities then tried to conduct the retrieving operation by pressing into service another crane with the name of Hindu god Hanuman written over it. “But that too did not work.”
After that the authorities summoned a Russian expert for the dredging operation but he ended up breaking both his legs, said Swamy.
And much to the amusement of the bench, he added: “Subsequently, a formal worship was organised. But a Tamil Nadu legislator who performed the worship died of heart attack the next day.”
To this, the bench asked Swamy: “What do you expect from us?”
Swamy responded: “My Lord, please hold that the issue of Rama Sethu involves the religious faith and belief. Scrap the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project if the government is unable or unwilling to alter the alignment of the proposed channel and ensure that the bridge is not breached.”
The former minister took pain to explain that he was not against a shorter navigational sea route per se. “Anything that touches the Rama Sethu, I am against it.”
When Swamy pointed out that ship passengers could dump beef while passing through the Rama Sethu, Justice Raveendran censured him, saying: “You have already put a very strong fundamental argument. You are only devaluing that by your secondary one.”
Earlier, Swamy said that section 295 of the Indian Penal Code provided for a jail term of two years on conviction to anyone defiles or damages a place of worship.
He asserted that under the same section no authority can sanction a project which involves damage or defilement of a place of worship.
And to prove that the Rama Sethu had religious value to Hindus, Swamy cited government documents that refer to the mythological bridge between India and Sri Lanka.
Among the government documents that Swamy quoted included a book tabled in parliament and released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
He also cited a Tamil Nadu government advertisements on trains that say that the waters off Rameshwaram island “still carry the blessings of Lord Rama’s Lotus feet because this is where from His monkey army crossed over to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita”.