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SSCP vs Rama Sethu: The game of sinister pawn brokers - (Part I of IV)

SSCP vs Rama Sethu: The game of sinister pawn brokers - (Part I of IV)

Publication: News Today
Date: October 17, 2007
URL: http://www.newstodaynet.com/col.php?section=20&id=669&catid=33

In Transferred Case (Civil) No. 25/2007 filed by Rama Gopalan and Transferred Case (Civil) No. 26/2007 filed by Dr Subramanian Swamy, Gopal Subramanium, Additional Solicitor General of India, appearing on behalf of the Union government, made the following submission to the Supreme Court, while withdrawing a detailed affidavit which had been filed earlier by the Ministry of Culture on 10/11 September, 2007: 'The said affidavit was based upon the instruction provided and material made available till then.

The Central government has taken note of the wide-ranging public sentiment which has been expressed in respect of the decision of the Central government to proceed with... 'The Central government has total respect for all religions, and Hinduism in particular, in the context of the present case. The Central Government is alive and conscious of religious sensibilities, including the unique, ancient and holy text of Ramayana.

Having regard to public sentiments, and having regard to the fact that representations including additional material, are being brought to the attention of the Government since the filing of this affidavit, the Central government, without any reservation, in a spirit of inclusiveness and high democratic traditions, to consider a different point of view, withdraws the present affidavit, to re-examine the entire matter. The government assures all concerned that all materials will be re-scrutinised with care and circumspection, including any alternative suggestion.

The Central government is also keen that its decisions bind and bring the society together rather than cause any disruption in the religious and social psyche of one true India. The matter may be adjourned to enable the government to review the matter, the government seeks three months' time for the purpose."

After creeping and crawling in such a manner before the Supreme Court of India, the Government in the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, apparently upon specific instructions from T R Balu, have formed a 10-member 'Committee of Eminent Persons' on the SSCP. The Terms of Reference of the Committee are to invite objections and suggestions from all concerned including the writ petitioners in the court cases in the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, having interest in the Sethu Samudram Shipping Channel Project and to consider all suggestions/proposals/documents after giving them a personal hearing.

The Committee comprises :-

i) Prof. S Ramachandran - Chairman of Monitoring Committee on Environmental Impact Issues, of Sethu Samudram Ship Channel Project and Vice-Chancellor of University of Madras : Convenor

ii) Prof. R S Sharma - Former Professor of History, Delhi University (COMMENT: One of Arun Shourie's 'EMINENT HISTORIANS'!!)

iii) Dr. M Sakthivel - President of Aqua Culture Foundation of India

iv) Prof. Dilip K Biswas - former Chairman of Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India

v) Dr. J R B Alfred - former Director of Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata

vi) Dr. S R Wate - Deputy Director of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur

vii) Prof. P Jagadeesan - former Vice-Chancellor of Bharatidasan University, Tiruchi, Tamilnadu

viii) Prof. Y Vaikuntham - former Vice-Chancellor of Kakatiya University, Andhra Pradesh

ix) Dr. K Paddayya - Director of Deccan College, Pune

x) Shri R K Jain, IAS - Managing Director, Indian Ports Association - Member-Secretary

I interviewed Dr. Subramanian Swamy yesterday and he told me that this Committee of Eminent Persons can never gain any public confidence and that he has raised certain fundamental legal/procedural issues in his letter dated 16.10.2007 addressed to the Chairman of the Committee of Eminent Persons, Prof. S. Ramachandran.
In this letter Dr. Subramanian Swamy has raised the following points/issues:

i) I am in receipt of the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India Notification No. 652/2/1/2007-CA-III dated October 5, 2007, but sent to me on October 12, 2007 i.e. after a week's delay, inviting me in my capacity as a petitioner in the matter of the Sethu Samudram Canal Project (as per assurance given on behalf of the Government of India to the Supreme Court), to file objections and suggestions with the 'Committee of Eminent Persons' on the said project. The deadline set for receipt of the said objections and suggestions is 31 October, 2007, but because of the one week delay on your part in informing me of this, I suggest in fairness that the deadline also be delayed by one week to 6 November, 2007.

ii) Since the Committee has not been appointed by the Supreme Court, but by the Respondent/Union of India, hence your calling for my objections and submissions would tantamount to asking me to disclose my intended arguments in the writ petition (Tranferred Case (Civil) No. 26/27 of 2007) filed by me which is pending in the Supreme Court for further hearing.

iii) However, in the interest of speedy justice and early resolution of the matter, I am treating your invitation to send you my objections and submissions as if it is a part of the Discovery Process and the Administering of Interrogatories under the Civil Procedure Code. Therefore, I am also entitled to seek Discovery of Documents in your possession and also to serve on you some Interrogatories.

iv) I have already an I.A. pending in the Supreme Court of India seeking the disclosure of a document in your possession. The matter was brought to the attention of the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 14 September, 2007 and the Learned Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam (ASG) assured the Hon'ble I Bench to provide whatever relevant documents that I may seek from the Government. Further correspondence with the ASG is enclosed with this letter for your perusal and necessary action.

v) I would at the first instance like the Committee of Eminent Persons to obtain from the Union Government and provide me with a copy of the Report submitted to the Government by Dr. S. Badrinarayan, formerly Director of the Geological Survey of India, UOI regarding the nature of the Rama Sethu Construction, so that I may be able to suggest a positive course for the deliberations of the Committee.

vi) I request you to make these two documents available initially so that I may be able to file my objections and suggestions by November 6, 2007.

vii) The Chairman of this Committee who has already gone on record several times publicly espousing the Government of India's stand on the existence of the Rama Sethu and on the viability of the said project. Hence, unless he has undergone an opinion change and now has an open mind, the Committee's deliberations would be vitiated by pre-judgement bias of the Chairperson, which under settled law would negate any claim of the Committee of having reached a conclusion after fairly and impartially considering all objections and suggestions. This point also requires clarification prior to the sending of the objections and suggestions regarding the said project.

As an indefatigable and fearless spokesman for and on behalf of the public interest, apart from being a brilliant advocate, Dr Subramanian Swamy is fully aware of the fact that the right to begin in any judicial proceeding is a priceless and often squandered asset. His genius lies in the fact that he has never once squandered this precious asset. He has confronted the Committee of Eminent Persons (with known shakable cosmetic beliefs, cosmic pretensions and shaky if not dubious credentials) with unassailable points of law and procedure.

The pivotal points raised by Dr. Subramanian Swamy above remind me of the following words of pragmatic wisdom of Justice Francoise Brandeis and Justice Felix Frankfurter:

"And in the development of our liberty insistence upon procedural regularity has been a large factor. Respect for law will not be advanced by resort, in its enforcement, to means which shock the common man's sense of decency and fair play." (Justice Francoise Brandeis)

"The history of liberty has largely been the history of observance of procedural safeguards." (Justice Felix Frankfurters)

There is enough documentary evidence to show that Prof. S. Ramachandran, The Chairman of the Committee of Eminent Persons is a biased and prejudiced person who does not seem to have even ordinary belief, muchless faith, in the processes of equity and natural justice. (Please see Prof. S. Ramachandran's earlier Press Release dated 11 June 2007 at the top of this article).

In the United States, the term 'recusal' is used most often with respect to court proceedings. Title 28 of the United States Code (the Judicial Code) defines the standards for judicial disqualification or recusal. Section 455, captioned 'Disqualification of justice, Judge, or Magistrate Judge,' provides that a federal judge 'shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.'

The same section also provides that a judge is disqualified 'where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding;' when the judge has previously served as a lawyer or witness concerning the same case or has expressed an opinion concerning its outcome.

Having spoken to the Press several times that the Rama Sethu is not a 'Man-Made Structure' and that it is a natural formation, Prof S Ramachandran. cannot be expected to take a different view on the subject in his new capacity as Chairman of this Committee. Any other self-respecting man placed in a similar situation would have recused himself with courage and conviction declaring that justice should not only be done but seem to be done.

I fully endorse the view of Captain Balakrishnan on this new and sham Committee of Eminent Persons:
'It doesn't require extraordinary crystal gazing powers to appreciate the contents of the conclusions and recommendations that 'their eminences' will be submitting. It's a foregone conclusion. It will be a 'command performance' in pursuance of 'THEIR MASTER'S VOICE'!!" (Sonia, Ambika Soni, T R Balu and Karunanidhi!)

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