Justice (retired) M.S. Liberhan, who was appointed by the P.V. Narasimha Rao government, in December 1992, to head a commission of inquiry into the demolition of the Babri Masjid, has called Wednesday’s verdict by the special CBI court in the demolition case “an utter farce”.
Speaking to Outlook soon after special CBI judge SK Yadav acquitted all accused in the demolition case after concluding that the destruction of the Babri Masjid was “not the result of a pre-planned conspiracy”, the former chief justice of the Andhra Pradesh and Madras high courts said, “I need to read the verdict for the details but the court’s conclusion that the demolition was not the result of a planned conspiracy is completely contrary to the findings of my commission”.
The Justice Liberhan Commission, often accused of spending an inordinately long time – nearly 17 years – to complete its inquiry, had examined 100 witnesses before submitting its report to the Union government in June 2009. The Liberhan report had held 68 individuals, including BJP stalwarts LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambhara, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Bal Thackeray, Ashok Singhal, Lalji Tandon (all deceased) among others, “guilty of inciting communal discord” ahead of the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Though not all 68 people held ‘guilty’ by the Liberhan commission were named as accused in the demolition trial, Advani, Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Bharti and Vinay Katiyar were among those charged in the case by the CBI for criminal conspiracy and making incendiary speeches. All of them have now been acquitted by the special CBI court.
Liberhan told Outlook that the trial, in his opinion, “was compromised for reasons I do not wish to comment on” and that the “investigation and whatever followed from it were an utter farce”.
While the trial court has concluded that the authenticity of the audio and video evidence advanced by the CBI could not be proved during proceedings in the case, Liberhan says, “there was conclusive evidence to prove conspiracy by the BJP leaders of the time and their complicity in the demolition… audio and video recordings were just a small part of that evidence… In the commission report you will find numerous other evidences. I do not know if the trial court has taken any of that into account before reaching the verdict or if the CBI even bothered to present this during the proceedings.”