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Published in the 16-28 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


ASI report under cloud

By P M Damodaran

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: In a significant order, the Special full Bench of the Allahabad High Court, hearing the Ayodhya title suits, has on February 3 ruled that the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which carried out excavations to find out whether a temple had ever existed at the place where once the Babri Masjid stood, would be seen only in the light of further evidence in the case. The three-member bench further remarked “no doubt, the objections taken against the report have to be considered before the ASI report is acted upon but that situation will arise only when the court decides the matter finally.”

The court remarked that it would not be advisable nor expedient to make any comments at this stage regarding the correctness or accuracy of the report, or the tenability or otherwise of the objections. Whether the report is biased or suffers from discrepancies or infirmities, or is unacceptable, for various reasons stated in objections have to be considered along with the rest of the evidence that has been brought on record, the Bench added and said that in its considered view this is not the proper stage to pronounce on these points. 

The order is significant for two reasons. One, other evidences in the title suits will not be less important than the ASI report for the court while deciding the case. The court had made it clear that the ASI report would be dealt with only when the matter was being finally decided. Two, the court had also made it clear that it had taken note of the objections raised against the ASI report by the Sunni Central Board of Waqfs and others.

It may be recalled that the court had on August 1, 2002 and October 23, 2002 asked the ASI to carry out ground penetrating survey/GO radiology survey of approximately 10,000 square feet area of the disputed land to ascertain the possibility of proof of remnants of some earlier structures. The ASI then with the assistance of Tojo International Private Limited undertook the exercise that indicated as many as 184 anomalies. The court further directed the ASI to carry out excavations of the disputed area. The ASI carried out the survey from March 12 to August 7, 2003 and submitted its report. The report had hinted that there might have been a temple at the site centuries ago though the ASI, before submitting its report, had at any time given the impression that it had found anything to show that a temple had stood at that place. The Sunni Waqf Board had dubbed the ASI as biased and filed its objections in the court. On the other hand, the Ram Temple movement leaders apparently supported the ASI report. 

In another Ayodhya-related development, a petition has been filed in the Allahabad High Court on February 1 seeking a thorough probe and trial of all those accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, including the former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani. The petitioner, Mr. Bharat Nath Shukla in his petition had alleged that by disowning their act, all the accused had befooled and misguided the people. The petitioner has made the Union of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the state of Uttar Pradesh as the opposite parties. 

The petitioner claimed that he had stayed in Karsewakpuram in Ayodhya from November 20 to December 6, 1992 and attended every meeting held during this period. He said that the Late Paramhans Ram Chandra Das had told the volunteers assembled there that the disputed structure would have to be destroyed at any cost on December 6, 1992. Mr. Shukla claimed that Late Das had wanted the necessary instruments to be arranged for the demolition. Late Das had also told the volunteers that Mr. Advani had asked the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders, including Mr. Ashok Singhal, to positively complete the ‘work’ on December 6, 1992 as they would not get such an opportunity in the future, he submitted. The petitioner said that he was aggrieved with the attitude of the accused persons because after stoking the religious passion in kar sewaks, leading to the demolition of the mosque, they were now disowning their act.

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