Setu: TR Baalu as de facto Defence Minister?

Setu: TR Baalu as de facto Defence Minister?

Where did T R Baalu get engineering degree from?

V SUNDARAM | Fri, 25 Jan, 2008 , 05:06 PM

If Lord Rama’s credentials as an engineer can be questioned by Dravidian leaders with impunity, then the common people of India would like to put these questions to T R Baalu taking note of his recent letter to A K Antony, Union Defence Minister:

1) Are you a Naval Engineer?
2) Where did you take your Naval Engineering Degree from? Did you study in an Engineering College in India or abroad?  Did you ever enroll in any Naval or Military Academy in India or abroad?
3) Are you the Defence Minister of India?
4) Are we right in ‘imagining’ that  A K Antony and not T R Baalu is the duly appointed Defence Minister of India?
5) Who gave you plenipotentiary powers to question the Constitutional authority of the Chief of Naval Staff to give his unfettered technical opinion on naval matters?

These questions have become very relevant because in a recent letter to Antony, Baalu has questioned the constitutional right of Admiral Sureesh Mehta PVSM, AVSM, ADC Chief of Naval Staff to express his technical opinion on the practical usability and utility of the controversial SSCP Canal from the point of view of the Indian Navy. 

    Admiral Sureesh Mehta is one of the most decorated officers of the Indian Navy. The Admiral is also currently the chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, in which capacity he oversees aspects of strategic warfare and joint operations. The Admiral was awarded the ‘Ati VisThist Seva Medal’ in 1995 and ‘Param Vishist Seva Medal’ in 2005 for his  meritorious services. 

    In a recent media interview he had given on 22 January 2008, he had stated as follows: ‘Sethu Samudaram Channel Project (SSCP) is a beneficial project. But, after completing the SSCP, only small naval vessels can navigate through the Channel. There is no possibility for large vessels to navigate through the Channel. Yet, this is a sentimental issue relating to Tamilnadu.’

   No one, not even the Prime Minister or the Union Defence Minister, can question the Constitutional Right of Chief of Naval Staff and chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee to give his technical opinion in a fearless manner on the type of naval vessels which can navigate through the proposed SSCP Channel. 

   As Union Minister of Shipping and Transport Baalu has absolutely no Constitutional right to interfere in the affairs of the Ministry of Defence or in matters of National Security.  He has no business to treat the Union Defence Minister as a Joint Secretary and the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee as an Under Secretary in the Ministry of Shipping and Transport. I am constrained to say this because Baalu has sent a letter to Antony in which he has stated as follows: 

  ‘On 22 January 2008 in Chennai, Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s statements made in an interview have been publicised. It is unfortunate that a person in a high position of authority in the Indian Navy has made such statements. It was unnecessary for a person in a very responsible position to make such statements. These are not also acceptable. His information is false. When the Sethu Channel Project is completed and the project gets commissioned, 80 per cent of the maritime vessels navigating along major ports of India, carrying goods, can navigate through the channel. This Sethu Channel is 12 metres deep. All the naval vessels owned by Indian Navy can navigate through the Sethu Channel. Sethusamudram Channel Project is a harbinger of economic development of southern States. Apart from this, the project will help strengthen the nation’s defence. In such a situation, Suresh Mehta has given a press interview which causes embarrassment to the Central government. So, I request you to impress upon him that a clarifying statement should be issued by him.’

TR Baalu De Facto Defence Minister?

Several aspects relating to the controversial SSCP are pending final adjudication by the Supreme Court of India. This amounts to gross interference in a matter which is sub-judice.  I am sure that the Supreme Court and other Courts of Law where this matter is pending will take due note of the sordid attempt made by the Baalu, using the authority of his transitory Ministerial Office, to coerce the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta into a ‘forced’ approval of the wrong technical stand on SSCP taken by the Ministry of Shipping and Transport.

  Dr Subramaniam Swamy has reacted as follows to Baalu’s letter to the Union Defence Minister: ‘It is shocking to read Baalu’s uncouth letter to the Union Defence Minister demanding government’ s statement in contradiction of Navy Chief’s view that the SSCP channel will service only small boats and  not big ships which are more numerous. A Minister cannot write directly to another Minister asking for a contradiction of an Officer’s statement. If he does, then it is breach of the Code of Conduct of the Cabinet. Only the PM or Cabinet can take it up. Moreover, what Admiral Mehta stated is true and is in the papers filed in the Courts by the Government of India.  I demand that the Union Shipping Minister  should resign forthwith and that the SSCP be scrapped’

Photo AK Antony De Jure Defence Minister? 

   In my view, Baalu has opened himself to the charge of gross Ministerial misconduct through his attempt to sit in final judgment on the ultimate technical authority of Chief of Naval Staff in Naval matters.  I would earnestly appeal to the Prime Minister and all the Union Cabinet Ministers to bear in mind the following immortal words of Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Moulton all the time when they discharge their constitutional duties and responsibilities:  

   ‘There are three great domains of’ HUMAN ACTION.  First comes the domain of POSITIVE LAW, where our actions are prescribed by laws binding upon us which must be obeyed.  Next comes the domain of FREE CHOICE, which includes all those actions as to which we claim and enjoy complete freedom.  But between these two domains, there is a third large and important domain in which there rules neither Positive Law nor Absolute Freedom. 

  In that domain there is no Law which inexorably determines our course of action, and yet we feel that we are not free to choose as we would.  The degree of this sense of a lack of complete freedom in this domain varies in every case.  It grades and  ranges from a consciousness of a DUTY nearly as strong as POSITIVE LAW, to a feeling that the matter is all but a question of personal choice. Some might wish to parcel out this domain into separate countries, calling one, for instance, the domain of DUTY, another the domain of PUBLIC SPIRIT, another the domain of GOOD FORM; but I prefer to look at it all as one domain, for it has one and the same characteristic throughout – it is the domain of OBEDIENCE TO THE UNENFORCEABLE. To my mind the real greatness of a nation, its true civilisation, is measured by the extent of this LAND OF OBEDIENCE TO THE UNENFORCEABLE.


One Response to “Setu: TR Baalu as de facto Defence Minister?”

  1. dr.v.ananthanarayanan Says:

    most of the dmk ministers in the central government are unruly is time the people defeat the congress hooligan dominated government.vandematharam.jai hind.

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