SC to decide on shifting former INS Vikrant

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea from the Centre to shift India’s first aircraft carrier, the former INS Vikrant, five nautical miles away from its current position at the Mumbai harbour. The 70-year-old ship has been sold to a UK company to be turned into scrap.

A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and A K Sikri fixed for hearing on Friday the petition filed by Defence Ministry, which also sought that the May 5 stay order on dismembering the UK-manufactured aircraft carrier be lifted.

Appearing for the government, Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra contended that the harbour passageway may get blocked with the ship at its current position and the onset of monsoon. He, however, assured the court that the ship would not be destroyed till permission was granted.

Allowing his plea for an early hearing, the bench said it will consider on Thursday the application filed by the Centre, in connection with the PIL filed by social activist Kiran Paigankar, which prayed for the declaration of the Vikrant as an archeological site or art treasure.

Paigankar filed a special leave petition in the apex court challenging the January 23 Bombay High Court order that dismissed a PIL on preserving the ship. The government, however, sought the dismissal of the plea.

The Defence Ministry contended that the ship be disposed of early, since it was no longer safe to keep the Vikrant in the Mumbai naval dockyard 17 years after its decommissioning in 1997.

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