The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Union and the state governments to file replies to a petition demanding that IMS Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier, now decommissioned, be preserved and not scrapped.
Kiran Paingankar, an activist, has filed the public interest litigation, seeking a court direction to the Union government to not auction off the ship as scrap.
Division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha on Monday sought affidavits-in-reply by January 9, and posted the petition for hearing on January 16, 2014.
Paingankar, who claims to have been working for preservation of the ship since it was decommissioned in 1997, has said that HC should quash the tender issued by the Union Ministry of Defence in November this year inviting bids for scrapping the ship.
The bids were to be opened on December 18, but counsels for the union government, Dhiren Shah and Som Sinha, informed the court on Monday that the auction process had been postponed.
"The Maharashtra Maritime Board approached us (Defence Ministry) asking us to delay the auction process. Now it has been kept for January 29," Shah told the court.
The reserved price of the ship, made of 15,000 tonnes of steel, is Rs 3.10 crore.
The ship was first commissioned in the British navy in 1945 as HMS Hercules. India purchased it in January 1957 and renamed it as Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant.
According to the petitioner, the warship is a part of India's history, so it should be preserved.
Opposition Shiv Sena and BJP recently slammed the Maharashtra government for not being ready to save the ship from being sold as scrap.