CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Court Ignored Findings of Liberhan Commission


It is a well-worn saying that courts are 'courts of law and not justice'. This was once again brought home by the decision of the special CBI court in the Babri Masjid demolition case in which all accused were acquitted.

Court hearings had continued over the last three years. Tons of evidence adduced by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was found unconvincing by the court. This judgment raises several questions.

At the outset, the Supreme Court needs to be complimented for putting this case on a priority roaster and laying down that the case must be heard on a day to day basis. The judge was even given extension in service to complete the task. But the outcome has come as a big surprise and huge disappointment.

One wonders whether the report of the Liberhan Commission was placed before the court. The commission consisted of a former chief justice of a high court. It faced innumerable difficulties in its work due to the unco-operative attitude, not only of the UP government but also the central UPA government, which had set up the commission.

It made no difference which political party was in power. Two non-BJP chief ministers-Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati--were in power in UP for nearly 12.5 years, before the Liberhan Commission submitted its report in 2009. Both of them professed to be staunchly secular and anti-BJP. One wonders why they did not support the Liberhan Commission in finding the truth and identifying the forces behind the demolition of Babri.

The same holds true with respect to the central government wherein Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal was Prime Minister for 324 days, followed by I.K. Gujral, also of the Janata Dal, for 322 days. Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of the UPA government from May 2004 till the submission of the report by the Commission in 2009.

In utter frustration, the commission has stated: I cannot restrain myself from observing that attempts were made to scuttle the commission.

The stays granted by the high courts of Delhi and Allahabad, often continued for ever, and enabled the witnesses to avoid appearing before the commission. One of them was Kalyan Singh who was the chief minister and had orchestrated the demolition of the Masjid by taking over the administration fully in his hands.

The commission has stated: "Kalyan Singh, a key figure, did not appear initially for a number of years and at every step got stay orders from courts. It is only after a decade [that] he issued a press statement about his knowledge about conspiracy for demolition." 

The commission has further stated: "Even when the witnesses were examined on the premises (sic) of their press statements issued by them, they backtracked from the statement issued to the press…The leading instances are Mulayam Singh, Kalyan Singh and many others who stated in press about the knowledge of the conspiracy for the demolition but on oath before the commission denied any such knowledge." 

Bal Thackeray, the then Shiv Sena Chief, had publicly and proudly announced that Shiv Sena was a part of the conspiracy to demolish the Babri mosque.

The Liberhan commission has come to a considered conclusion that the structure could not have been demolished without careful preparation. The commission has given the list of political leaders and officers who, according to its assessment, were responsible for the destruction of the structure. Many of the accused before the CBI special court were in the list given by the commission in its report.

I am aware that though this was a judicial commission of enquiry, its findings are not binding on anyone and are just advisory. But, based as they are on evidence adduced before the commission, deserved to be taken note of.

While discarding the evidence produced before it, the CBI court has given reasons why it could not be accepted, namely, non-certification of audio cassettes by the forensic laboratories, non-production of negatives of photos etc. The legal team of the CBI should have taken care to fulfil these requirements before producing the evidence before the court.

This case which has a long history of 28 years and has seen the stand of the CBI changing, depending on which government, whether the NDA or the UPA, was in power at the centre. Looking to the CBI's record ever since its inception, this is not surprising. Even the Supreme Court has commented on it time and again by calling it a 'caged parrot' and other epithets.

The Havala case was only one of the scores of cases in which the CBI came for chastisement. The question of enacting a separate law for the CBI has been pending for the last 50 years but due to the opposition of the states, it has made no headway. And considering the trust deficit in the centre-state relations, it is unlikely to be passed in the foreseeable future.

My repeated suggestions to discuss this subject fully in the Inter State Council and to provide in the new enactment for a governing board for the CBI comprising central ministers and a few chief ministers, by rotation, are the only way in which independence and autonomy of the CBI can be ensured.

But, in cases like the Babri Masjid demolition, the CBI comes so handy that the central government is unlikely to take any initiative to enact a separate law for the CBI. This is therefore a cry in the wilderness, for ever.

The CBI special court seems to believe that the infiltrators from Pakistan were responsible for the demolition of Babri. As far as I am aware, there was no evidence with the central agencies to show the involvement of Pakistan. But, it is imperative that the government makes an authoritative statement on the subject.

The crux of the question is whether the strong, solid structure of the Babri Masjid could have been raised to the ground in just 5-6 hours by karsevaks by spontaneous, on-the spur- of-the-moment action, without any preparations. The distinction between 'preparation' and 'conspiracy' is very thin.

For making preparation to demolish a structure too, people have to come together, not necessarily in 'one room' as the CBI court seems to believe. Consultations can even be on phone or by other modes of communication.

The fact that the Ram Lalla idols were removed by vigilant karsevaks before the main dome of the mosque was brought down and were put back at the original place at about 7 o'clock in the evening is very telling.

The Supreme Court itself had noted that the demolition of Babri was illegal. Whatever the merits of the Supreme Court decision in the land dispute by which the possession of the whole site was given to Hindus, one had hoped that at least in the criminal case of palpably illegal demolition of the structure, those responsible would be brought to book and the rule of law would be established but even this hope has been belied.

The only way in which the wrong can be rectified is by filing an appeal in the high court of Allahabad, and later if necessary, even in the Supreme Court.

Mention must be made of the disturbing thought which has been troubling me. When Indira Gandhi was bent on making major changes in the Constitution during the Emergency in 1975-77, the Supreme Court had drawn a red line and declared that Parliament was not competent to amend the Constitution's basic structure. The court had not defined the term in its judgment but has, in its subsequent judgments, held that the basic structure includes India's federal and democratic governance, rule of law, independence of the judiciary, division of powers, secularism and so on.

But, happenings in the last few years have shown that amendment of the Constitution is not necessary to destroy the basic structure. Concerted actions achieve the same purpose. As a result, sadly, even with the pertinent provisions of the basic structure remaining in tact, India is no longer what the Constitution had envisaged.

Madhav Godbole is a former Union Home Secretary and Secretary, Justice    

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy
  • Anxious Leader, Passive Citizens and "Criminalised" Governance
  • Parliamentary Session Merely A "Notice Board" For Government Decisions?
  • The Collapse of Democratic Institutions Under Majoritarian Rule
  • Mughal MUseum Rekindles Question of India's "Slavery""
  • Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Court Ignored Findings of Liberhan Commission
  • As Politics of Hate Takes Over, The Biggest Casualty is Compassion
  • Hathras: The Last Opportunity to Reflect
  • India Joining Ranks of Illiberal Democracies
  • Rising Uncertainties May Lead to Election Chaos in The us
  •