Swamy told a bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justices Hima Kohli, and J.B. Pardiwala that it was a small matter, where the Central government was supposed to say either yes or no.
Counsel, representing the Centre, submitted that the reply in the matter is ready, but seeking time to file the reply, said: “We will have to get instructions from the Ministry.”
At this, the bench said, “Why are you dragging your feet?”
In its order, the bench said: “Let the counter affidavit be filed within four weeks with a copy to be served to the petitioner (Swamy)”. It further added that rejoinder, if any, be filed within two weeks thereafter.
Swamy’s plea sought a direction to the Central government and the National Monument Authority to declare ‘Ram Setu’ as a monument of national importance. Ram Setu, which is also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island or Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
Swamy contended that the government has already accepted the existence of ‘Ram Setu’ and in 2017, a meeting was also convened to examine his demand, but things have not moved after that.
In April last year, a bench headed by the then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had directed that the plea seeking National Heritage Status for Ram Setu be listed before the next Chief Justice of India.
The UPA government, in 2007, had proposed a Sethusamudram project. Under this project an 83-km-long deep-water channel was to be made by extensive dredging and removal of the limestone shoals, to link Mannar with Palk Strait. Swamy moved against this decision in the court and the government resorted to another plan to link Mannar with Palk Strait.