NEW DELHI—India’s former Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, who was in charge when the Babri mosque was demolished by mobs on 6 December 1992, is “aghast” at the Special CBI court’s judgment acquitting all who were accused of conspiring to carry out the demolition.
“Quite frankly, I am aghast with this verdict because, firstly, a huge mosque of this size coming down within a period of five hours without any planning or without any preparation on the part of anybody is impossible to believe,” he said. “Secondly the fact that, after 28 years this decision has come, is a commentary on our judicial system, criminal law system.”
Godbole, who was the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s Home Secretary, clarified that he was only speaking in context with the first part of the judgment since the full judgment had not yet been accessed by him. So he shared his views about the part which relates with the charge of conspiracy to carry out the demolition.
High profile politicians including former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, ex Human Resource Development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, ex cabinet minister Uma Bharati and others had been accused of conspiracy in the case following a judgment of the Supreme Court in 2017.
However, Special CBI court Judge S K Yadav, in a 2000 page judgment, held that the demolition of the mosque was not premeditated and there was no conspiracy behind it. The judge also reportedly stated that there was no evidence against the accused.
Reacting to this, former Home Secretary Godble told HuffPost India, “All that I can say is that, looking at the facts of the case, this has come as a very big surprise.”
He also doubted if this judgment will be appealed given that both Uttar Pradesh as well the union governments were led by the Bharatiya Janata Party. “Obviously, one would have normally expected that an appeal will be filed against this judgment in the High Court or in the Supreme Court but looking at the power dispensation which is there both in the state and the centre, it is unlikely that any appeal will be filed,” he said.
When asked if he considers this as closure for victims of the religious violence which was witnessed across India in the aftermath of the demolition of the mosque, Godbole said, “No. I do not personally believe so. Because the Supreme Court has said that it was a criminal act to bring down the Masjid and therefore, the criminal act has to be brought before justice and this is the justice which has been dispensed.”
Further, on a question about whether there could be some lacunae in the prosecution’s case, the retired IAS officer said, “It is impossible to comment on that without looking at the judgment as a whole, but prima facie to believe there was no evidence at all, is something which I personally find it very difficult to believe.”
Godbole also added, “But one has to go by the considered view of the court and if the court believes there was no evidence, one has to go by that. But it is something which comes as a tremendous surprise to me.”