Table the Liberhan report in Parliament

The Tribune, 15 July 2009

Centre must table the Liberhan report in Parliament

By Rajindar Sachar

So mercifully at last after 17 years (probably a record) Justice M.S. Liberhan has given his report after a gruelling and according to him non-co-operative attitude of officials and stay orders by courts. The validity of this explanation will naturally have to be tested after the report is officially released. However, so far as its relevance for some inside information as to the origin, execution of this vile venture by the BJP, the VHP and their unholy nexus is concerned, it is unlikely that any new information would be disclosed.

We had been seeing the ugly face of communal demon of these groups right from the start of Rath Yatra by Mr L.K. Advani to the near mad frenzy encouraged by the BJP leaders when their goons were engaged in the despicable task of demolishing the mosque. The specious excuse exercise now being put forward by the BJP leadership that though it made all preparations for a massive Rath Yatra with lakhs of sewaks and provocative speeches at the spot by Mr Advani and more direct appeal to the mob to demolish the mosque, it was only an oral exercise and was not meant to demolish it as humbug.

It is like pointing a double-barelled gun at an individual asking him to get aside otherwise it will shoot — a person might have been able to save himself, but the mosque could not because it could not move itself — all actions pointed out a single-point plan of demolition squad. Ms Uma Bharti, one of the top leaders of the Sangh at time openly and proudly owns it up. Mr Advani, Dr Murlimohan Joshi and other leaders have been charge-sheeted, of course, after a number of years for their prima facie guilty intention. All this material has been in the public domain for years. So Justice Liberhan is not going to add anything on this account. But till it is released, the BJP will profane its innocence by taking cover under the pretext of non-publication of the report.

To prevent the BJP from indulging in accusations, it will be in the fitness of things if the Government of India immediately tabled the report in Parliament (it should not wait for the Union Budget to be passed as that will take weeks and add to further cloud the matter). Let the people read the report and take action accordingly. The BJP has already been told by the electorate where its communal poison can lead to its almost certain road of extinction in the country’s future politics.

No, this writer is not expecting the Liberhan Report to disclose any earth-shaking information — the only point is that without publishing it the BJP is being provided a cover for self-defence by taking the plea that unless the report is made public there is no point in discussing the most horrible and shameful event of free India. This writer had at that time proposed that the Government of India should announce observance of December 6 as National Repentance Day every year so that people will fast and pray for unity and welfare of all the communities. However, it seems politics is a different cup of tea and the communal poison continued to grow. The damage it has done to the psyche of Muslims is immeasurable and will always remain a permanent scar on our secular republic.

May be the BJP’s rout in the current general elections will serve as a balm, but the scar remains. But then, nations have to move forward. Unfortunately, the continuance of legal case in courts for over a decade is only keeping the fire alive and a matter of embarrassment. Frankly, any objective student of law will know that the litigation at the Allahabad High Court is a wasteful exercise; it is only delaying the BJP’s hollow claim from being exposed. It is impossible to prove after 5000 years whether Lord Ram was actually born under the broad area covered by the mosque.

Then it is said that it can be proved that the temple existed where the mosque stood. So the mantra of the Babri mosque being Lord Rama’s birth is an impossibility built up only by the frenzy demonic wails inflaming communal passion. Though the masjid may only be a furlong from the claim of Lord Rama’s birthplace, and even assuming that improbability of proof, it will not advance the claim to the ownership of the masjid land.

Muslims may or may not wish to use the space if there was a mandir at the masjid spot, but this does not mean that the masjid will then automatically go to the BJP. It will still retain as the property of the Masjid Board. There is in law a formidable uncrossable hurdle in the way of the BJP and its cohorts. It cannot be denied that the mosque existed for over 400 years and it was in the Muslims’ possession. Any claim by the BJP on whatsoever ground, either as Lord Ram’s birthplace or a mandir having been destroyed before the mosque was built is a non-starter because of the bar of limitation to pursue this suit.

This writer says this in view of the precedence of the case of Masjid Shahid Ganj situated in Lahore (Pakistan) versus the SGPC decided by the Privy Council in 1940. Muslims failed to win back the masjid built in 1200 and converted into a gurdwara in 1760 as the 12-year period for filing a suit provided under limitation had expired. Whatever the nature of the title of the site under the Babri masjid, the very fact that it had existed for over 400 years before the suit was filed would automatically non-suit the VHP allies.

The same bar of law of limitation will apply and the suit filed is, therefore, not maintainable and the RSS and its cohorts can never claim any little to the mosque site. Let the BJP, if it is seriously wanting to do some internal cleaning, refrain from wrong deductions from the past history and culture to spread communal fires. A correct and impartial reading of history will show that the people who can look forward than backward can easily live with each other harmoniously.

Surely we owe it to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Azad to restrain ourselves well in time. The legal position is clear. It is only the weak political will that is responsible for the Ayodhya imbroglio to continue as one of the most festering sores within the country. By keeping the Ayodhya issue alive, the country has been kept from addressing its most urgent task — how to meet the challenge of the growing pauperisation of the masses. And that includes both Hindus and Muslims, Christians and other minorities.

(The writer is a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court)


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