Tuesday, May 06, 2008

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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