Working on a war-footing, the UPA government on Friday withdrew both its affidavits on the Setusamudram project case from the Supreme Court. One of them had said there was no scientific and historical evidence to prove the existence of Lord Ram.
The government’s action went much beyond what was stated by Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj on Thursday. He had said the government would file a second affidavit, erasing out the controversial paragraphs.
Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanium told a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan that the Government would set up a mechanism to redress the grievances of the petitioners about the project. The authority, to be set up shortly, would hear all parties and reach an amicable solution, he said.
Subramanium said, “The Government wants to resolve the matter in a mutually-acceptable manner. The government assures all concerned that all materials will be re-scrutinised with care and circumspection, including any alternative suggestions. The government is keen that its decisions bind the society together, rather than cause any disruption...”
The government on Friday sought an explanation from the director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India, Anshu Vaishya, for not carrying out the culture ministry's directive to delete the controversial paragraphs in the affidavit.
Two ASI officials — B. Bakshi, assistant director, monuments and Chandra Shekhar, director, administration — have been suspended by Vaishya.
The court posted the case for further hearing in the first week of January 2008. The bench said its August 31 order restraining the Centre and the Setusamudram Shipping Canal Corporation from damaging the Ram Setu would continue. However, the authorities can continue dredging; there is no stay on that.