New Delhi, April 5 : The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that it may lift the stay on the dismantling of India’s decommissioned aircraft carrier INS Viraat.However, it asked a private firm, which is keen to convert it into a museum, to submit its reply on the marine surveyor report which concluded that Viraat is a dead structure, and in a totally grounded situation.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said: “the ship is now a private property.40 percent of it has already been dismantled and it cannot be given status of aircraft carrier now.” In February, the top court had barred further dismantling of INS Viraat which was in service with the Indian Navy for nearly three decades.It has been beached in Gujarat’s ship-breaking yard of Alang since September 2020.
The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing after a week.
A private firm Shree Ram Group at Alang in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat bought Viraat at an auction in July last year for Rs 38.54 crore.The firm began the dismantling process in December.
During the hearing, the bench examined the dismantling status and told the private firm Envitech Marine Consultants Pvt Ltd, that 40 per cent of the warship has already been dismantled after a valid purchase.The bench asked Envitech Marine counsel why does it want to take it for converting it into a museum?
Petitioner in-person Rupali Sharma, appearing for Envitech Marine, submitted they would want to examine the ship to ascertain the status of dismantling.The bench replied, “it has now become a private property and it does not have a character of warship.”
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing the Shree Ram Group, objected to the petition filed by the firm represented by Sharma.
On February 10, the top court had said: “Issue notice.In the meantime, parties are directed to maintain status quo with regard to dismantling/breaking of the subject-ship known as INS Viraat, as on date.”
The top court had also sought a response from the Centre and others on a plea filed by Envitech Marine Consultants Private Limited.The private firm seeks to preserve the ship and convert it into a museum, and moved the top court seeking direction to stop it from being dismantled.
In July 2019, the Centre had informed the Parliament that the decision to dismantle INS Viraat was taken after due consultation with the Indian Navy.