The Supreme Court yesterday allowed the union government to shift the iconic INS Vikrant, India's first aircraft carrier which was decommissioned in 1997, from the Naval in Mumbai to a ship-breaking yard at nearby Darukhana.
"We have only considered the shifting of ship from the Naval dockyard," a bench of justices B S Chauhan and A K Sikri said, adding the decommissioned aircraft career will be kept in territorial water only.
During a brief hearing, additional solicitor general Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the defence ministry, said the shifting was necessary keeping in view the safety aspect, particularly since the ship has "no mobility on its own".
The bench said it would hear in July the plea of Mumbai-based ship-breaking company IB Commercial, which won the bid to dismantle the ship after paying Rs63 crore to the government, against the payment of port trust charges and customs duty payment.
Kiran Paigankar, who had moved the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court decision rejecting her plea for preserving INS Vikrant by converting it into a maritime museum, today opposed the decision of shifting of ship by the private firm to ship breaking yard at Darukhana in Mumbai.
Earlier, the defence ministry had moved the court seeking a modification of its 5 May order on the ground that the aircraft carrier has been incurring huge cost in maintenance, besides occupying crucial berth for other serving vessels at the Naval dockyard at Mumbai.
The court, however, had said it would not modify the order and may consider the plea to shift the ship out of dockyard.
The aircraft career was built in England well before the end of World War II, and the Indian Navy bought it in 1957 – after which it saw action in at least two wars. It particularly played a key role during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971.
Earlier, an apex court bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan, since retired, had ordered status quo on dismantling of the ship and sought responses from the Defence Ministry and others.