Observing that the state government’s decision to scrap INS Vikrant, which is well over 70 years old, was not arbitrary, the Bombay High Court Thursday dismissed a PIL seeking conversion of the ship into a maritime museum.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha was acting on a PIL by activist Kiran Paigankar.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Shekhar Jagtap argued that INS Vikrant was a historical symbol and should be preserved.
The state government, represented by assistant government pleader J S Saluja, pointed out that the ship was old and that in 2010, a figure of Rs 350 crore was quoted to fix its base.
“The project (for conversion) is not viable. The ship is endangering the lives of people and even cadets cannot be sent on it for training,” Saluja told the court.
Additional Solicitor General Kevic Setalvad, who appeared for the Central government said, “All steps have been taken and it is impossible to retain the ship.”
“If cadets cannot go, it (the ship) is unsafe,” observed Chief Justice Shah.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) reply had earlier said the state government’s 1998 proposal to convert INS Vikrant into a maritime museum did not gather steam after the state government ducked the responsibility for its safety.
Rear Admiral Shankar S Mathur of the Western Naval Command, in an affidavit filed in the High Court, also said India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier is the last of the six aircraft carriers of ‘Majestic Class’ in the world. The ships were launched in 1943 during World War II, it says.