The Supreme Court Tuesday nixed the government’s request to let it go ahead with its plan to convert into scrap the country’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which, it claimed, was now “affecting national security and operational preparedness”.
A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and A K Sikri refused to modify the court order on May 5, whereby the government was ordered to maintain a status quo on its decision.
The vacation bench remained unimpressed with the Centre’s argument that it had already incurred Rs 22 crore in its dry docking and continued to spend annually Rs 5 crore for its maintenance without any benefits, and asked it to wait for the matter to be listed before a regular bench.
In its plea, the MoD sought direction for early disposal of the ship, claiming 17 years after its de-commissioning in 1997, its continuation in the naval dockyard in Mumbai was not considered safe any longer.
“There is adequate shortage of berths for new ships and that are being inducted in the Navy, in addition to the existing operational vessels… replenishment and arming/ammunitioning of other war ships and their operational deployment is getting affected,” it said. The government contended that mere historical value would not convert the status of the item to an antique within the meaning of the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act.
Activist Kiran Paigankar had filed the plea to save the ship from being scrapped and to convert it into a maritime museum. He had come to the SC against the decision of the Bombay High Court that had junked his plea.