Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, whose commission of inquiry held that the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 was “meticulously planned”, has said that the Supreme Court should have heard the Ayodhya title suit case only after the demolition case has been cleared.
His remarks come days before the Supreme Court starts final hearings in the title suit case from December 5.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Liberhan, who submitted his report in June 2009 indicting Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, said: “The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the appeal in the matter of the Ayodhya title suit (the decision of the Allahabad High Court in 2010) on a day-to-day basis from December 5 will adversely affect the demolition suit. What is the point of doing 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, 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 can take a few weeks or months to do it.”
The “demolition suit” he is referring to relates to the criminal conspiracy case currently being heard in Lucknow against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and others.
Critiquing the decision of the Allahabad High Court which ended up partitioning the land into three instead of deciding on the suit, he said: “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.”
The Allahabad High Court divided the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya between the main deity Ram Lalla, Sunni Wakf Board and Nirmohi Akhara.
Liberhan says that the current political dispensation, ruling parties as well the Opposition, are both indifferent to the circumstances under which the Masjid was torn down and its larger implications; “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.”
He said: “Muslims’ faith in the judicial system must be restored. The problem is there are not many civil society organisations who are actively engaged on this subject.”
Liberhan is also critical of the way the judiciary ruled on the instant triple talaq case: “What business is it of the Supreme Court to decide on personal laws, habits and rituals people practice? I am also opposed to judges deciding who is a Sikh, how Parsis should conduct themselves or their rituals etc.”
“Courts have started intervening in matters they cannot control which are not in their domain,” said Liberhan. “It has happened over the past 30 years when the Legislature and the Executive became weak. The balance of power is all deeply imbalanced now. How can judges issue orders like ‘clean up Delhi’s air etc.’ They are lucky that the Executive does not say that they won’t do. If they said so, can you imagine what would happen? Everything would completely fail.”
Liberhan, who retired as Chief Justice of the Andhra High Court, was very critical of the collegium system that judges have in place to appoint themselves. “How can people who have come through the collegium system decide that is the best way? Please collect data on corruption charges (in the judiciary) before and after the collegium system came in,” he said.
On the recent matter of the Chief Justice of India stating that he is “master of the roster,” Liberhan said: “Yes, for administrative purposes, the master of the roster holds but the CJI is not above the law of the land and should have recused himself voluntarily… that would have upheld the dignity of his office.”