‘It’s pvt property’: SC not keen on staying INS Viraat dismantling
- The top court stayed the dismantling of the decommissioned warship on February 10 on a plea made by a private firm, Envitech Marine Consultants, that it intended to convert the warship into a maritime museum.
The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that it was not in favour of continuing the stay on the dismantling of India’s first warship, INS Viraat, and asked the petitioner seeking to convert it into a museum to respond within a week to a report submitted by a ship-breaking firm that bought it in an auction last year.
The matter will be next heard on April 12.
The top court stayed the dismantling of the decommissioned warship on February 10 on a plea made by a private firm, Envitech Marine Consultants, that it intended to convert the warship into a maritime museum.
At an auction last July, the central government sold the warship to one Shree Ram Group of Industries, a ship-breaking firm based in Alang, Gujarat, for converting it into scrap at a price of ₹38.54 crore. The ship is currently anchored at Alang port. Subsequent to the stay order passed by the apex court, Shree Ram Group, represented by senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan, submitted on Monday that 35%-40% of the dismantling work has been completed.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde said on Monday: “We have same sentiments as you (Envitech Marine Consultants) have about our warships. But now it has become a private property. It cannot have the character of a warship anymore.”
An inspection of the ship by Marine and Technical Surveyors on February 12 found the vessel to be a “dead structure” not capable of being in seaworthy condition or navigational position. A copy of the report supplied by Shree Ram Industries’ counsel Somanath Padhan said: “Vessel has got severe hull damage in many areas... all kinds of machineries, operational manuals removed from the vessel.”
After going through the report, the bench, also comprising justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said, “It has been broken after a valid purchase. It is very iniquitous to continue the stay.”
Envitech’s managing director, Rupali Sharma, informed the court that they were willing to call experts from abroad to conduct an inspection of the ship.
The court gave a week’s time for the petitioner to go through the report presented by the ship-breaking firm and submit a response.