Sethusamudram case: K.Parasaran’s submissions

Parasaran began with the Preamble to the Constitution, which proclaimed its resolve to secure to all its citizens, liberty of belief, faith and worship, among other things. He said Ram Sethu is considered by large sections of believers as holy and sacred place. To interfere or destroy even part of the said causeway would be an interference with the right of liberty of belief, faith and worship. Splitting the word Ramayana as Ram and ayana, he said the latter denotes the path, which the former took, and it is not just a story. In Hinduism, he said feet is considered holy. That is why he suggested Ram Sethu is not just any other Hill or river, which may equally be considered holy. He asked, “Is there a compelling necessity to cause this wound to the belief of the people?”

In pluralist secular country, in situations of conflict between different facets of public interest, an attempt should be made to so mould the situation and interpret law to bring about concordance and not discordance, he said. According to him, the present case involves two aspects of public interest, claim of right to religious belief, faith and worship on the one hand, and the claim of economic and commercial development in the matter of providing convenient passage for ships. Every attempt should be made to accommodate both the aspects of public interest which would be in conformity with the principles of concordance in pluralist society. If both cannot be accommodated the Court must weigh one competing aspect of public interest against the other, and decide where the balance lies. In doing so, it will ensure that the constitutionally protected fundamental rights are not violated. The Court will have to take into account the nature of the injury to the public interest in deciding the conflict, he submitted.

In a lighter vein, Justice Raveendran asked how was it that Parasaran argued against the Government, when in every other case, including the OBC quota, he argued for the Government. Another petitioner in this case, Subramanian Swamy got up and said it was Lord Rama who got him this side.

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  • I did read the reports in The Hindu on this issue.I wonder whether Article 25 can be streched this far. It is one thing to say that Courts cannot go into issues of faith but it is another thing to infer from that courts should accept whatever is said by the beleivers in such issues and decide accordingly.If my memory
    is right the Narmada project involves drowning of many places
    of worship.But this did not stand
    in the way of Supreme Court deciding on that project.The most
    important question there was
    of rehabilitation, resettlement
    and compensation for project
    affected and displaced people.
    Here too the ecological consequences and the viability
    of the project should have been
    the issues.Except one petitioner
    Ossie Fernandes and his counsel
    Sriram Panchu, other petitioners
    dont even seem to raise these.
    This is a pity because even if there were no Ramar Sethu the
    ecological consequences of the
    project deserve a debate.But both
    the Right and Left have reduced
    this case to the question of
    preserving Ramar Sethu or not.
    In this case the Centre argues
    that there is no alternative
    route whereas the petitioners argue
    that route no4 is a possible solution as that does not affect
    the Ramar Sethu.Let us see how the
    Court addresses these issues.

  • It is ironical that such distinguished advocates presented rather banal submissions. Looking at the existence of Ram was not central to the issue and Religion can easily be whittled down.
    For instance, a seven judge bench in Ismail Farooqui v. UOI (Babri Masjid case) said that the right to relgion u/a 25 is subject to the power of eminent domain; i.e. there are no restrictions to the power of eminent domain in Part III.

    I think Mr.Andhyarujina is arguing the case for the UOI. It’d be interesting to see what he has to say about this.