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The Justice Liberhan commission of inquiry had indicted BJP stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi for Babri Masjid demolition

Days before the Supreme Court begins its daily hearing in the long-pending and politically sensitive Ayodhya title suit case, Justice (retired) Manmohan Singh Liberhan, who had led a commission of inquiry that looked into the Babri Masjid demolition incident, has said that it would have been better had the trial in the demolition suit been disposed off first.

The demolition suit – in which charges of criminal conspiracy in demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 have been made out against BJP veterans LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati – has been gathering dust in a special CBI court in Lucknow since May 30 this year when the BJP leaders were charged. Interestingly, the Supreme Court had ordered the special CBI court to wrap up proceedings in this case within two years but little forward movement seems to have taken place in the past six months since Advani, Joshi and Bharati were charged of criminal conspiracy.

In an interview to the Indian Express newspaper, Justice Liberhan has said that the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a bunch of petitions appealing against the 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit from December 5 onwards “will adversely affect the demolition suit”.

It is pertinent to note that the demolition suit is based largely on findings made by the Justice Liberhan Commission of Inquiry, which had in its report submitted in June 2009 held that the demolition of the Babri Masjid was “meticulously planned”. The Justice Liberhan report – as the commission’s findings are now popularly known as – had indicted former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as “pseudo moderates” and claimed that they were “ideological and intellectually” responsible for the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992. The report had added that though Vajpayee was not present at the Babri Masjid site when it was demolished, it cannot be assumed that he, along with Advani and Joshi, did not know about the designs of the Sangh Parivar which obviously wanted to raze the mosque to the ground.

Clearly unhappy about the Supreme Court’s decision to begin daily hearings in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit from December 5 while the demolition suit against LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and other BJP-RSS leaders and workers gathered dust, Justice Liberhan asked: “what is the point of this”.

“If it is decided that it is Wakf property, then one side is established as guilty of demolition. And if the Hindu sides get it (the Ram Janmbhoomi title), then the act of demolition becomes seen as ‘justified’ — to reclaim own property. This demolition is known to people alive and must be decided first. They (the Lucknow special CBI court) can take a few weeks or months to do it,” Justice Liberhan was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.

The 79-year-old retired judge also found fault with the verdict of the Allahabad High Court in the Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit which is now in appeal in the Supreme Court. “The Allahabad High Court decision is not the answer. A decision had to be made on the title suit of the property and they went and partitioned the land,” said Justice Liberhan, who had served as chief justice of the Madras and later Andhra Pradesh High Court before retiring from the judiciary.

The Allahabad High Court had, in a largely controversial verdict delivered in 2010, divided the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya between the main deity Ram Lalla, Sunni Wakf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. The verdict had been criticised by several legal eagles and politicians, aside from the parties in the case, for having adjudicated a title suit on the basis on faith and not law.

Liberhan says that the ruling party as well as the Opposition today are both indifferent to the circumstances under which the Babri Masjid was razed. “None of the political parties today want to do something or even genuinely feel like they should do something on the demolition of the Babri Masjid. They just want to encash it in their own ways. In the present political environment, even the philosophical idea of imagining the so-called secular society is not there, it is just limited to sloganism (sic),” he was quoted as saying.

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