A public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking that the Indian Museum Ship (IMS) Vikrant, which had played a significant role in India’s victory against Pakistan in 1971, be preserved and not scrapped.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice MS Sanklecha has directed the union and state governments to file their replies by January 8, 2014. The court will hear matter next on January 16, 2014.
The PIL, filed by activist Kiran Paingarkar through advocate Shekhar Jagtap, seeks that the centre and the Maharashtra government be restrained from scrapping the ship.
The Ministry of Defence had issued tenders in November inviting bids for scrapping IMS Vikrant. The ship was de-commissioned in 1997. It was then converted into a museum.
The bids were to be opened on December 18. “The opening of bids have been postponed to January 29, 2014 after we received a request from the Maharashtra Maritime Board for the same,” said counsels for the union government, Dhiren Shah and Som Sinha. The reserved price for the ship 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. It is made of 15,000 tonnes of steel. Jagtap pointed out that from 1971 to 1997, the ship represented India in various countries as part of peace making treaty. “With such glorious history, the ship needs to be preserved,” he added. He suggested that Maharashtra has a coastline from Mumbai to Sawantwadi, where the museum ship can be anchored.
In 1997, there was a move to scrap the ship which had been prevented by the state government, said Jagtap. “The government had deputed a Tata Consultancy Engineer, who had said that the ship could be converted either into a museum or be used for war relief purposes, “ he added.
Apart from seeking quashing of tender process for scrapping the ship, the PIL prays that the governments should be directed to submit report on steps taken to save the historical ship.