It was the case of Babri Masjid demolition; hearing was going on in the Supreme Court on 7 February. CBI counsel P.P. Rao challenged the decisions of CBI Special Court and Allahabad High Court, which had dropped the charges of conspiracy against Lal Krishna Advani, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi and other accused. When Mr. Rao, while presenting his standpoint, said this is a “national crime” – the leaders of BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad committed a national crime – the Bench took a serious notice of it, asking him not to say this word, not to say this is a national crime or a case of national importance. The Bench said to Mr. Rao, “We are yet to decide it. Until we or trial court decide this way or other, you can't make such statements.” (Hitvada, 8 February) The Bench also questioned the CBI over the delay in hearings even if it deems it a case of national importance. Mr Justice H L Dattu is heading this Bench.
The case of national importance?
Even common citizens having an eye on the Constitution, law of the land and the judiciary would agree that the judges of the Apex Court have rightly said that the court has not convicted anyone in this case as yet; so to say that these people committed a national crime is wrong. However, the opinion of the court that this is not even a case of national importance will have to be understood with the help of constitutional and legal experts. Apparently, all the evidences are in favour of it being a national crime – then President Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma having heard the news of demolition of the mosque on 6 December 1992 burst into tears; against the tradition he issued a very harsh statement from the Rashtrapati Bhawan against this tragedy, condemning the demolishers of the mosque and calling it an act of vandalism. Then Vice President K.R. Narayanan declared it as the biggest tragedy only next to the assassination of Gandhiji. Former Prime Minister V.P. Singh said, “They weren’t three domes of the mosque; they were the three pillars of the State of India: Legislature, Judiciary and Executive.” In the discussions presented by experts in the media soon after the incident, it was referred to variously as a case of national importance – the consequences of which would be felt nationwide. Many parties announced ‘Bharat Band’ against this act of vandalism.
This sensitivity is respectable but…
But however, in this case, efforts should be made to understand the opinion of the learned judges of the Supreme Court that “the case of Babri Masjid demolition is not a case of national importance”. However the remark of the court that none should be called a criminal in this case is worth consideration; the sensitivity of the judges is also respectable. But it would have been better it these courts showed the same sensitivity in the cases of arrest of Muslim youths on charges of terrorism; government agencies present them as “anti-nationals” and “criminals waging a war against the State” and the entire media carries these concocted stories with added bites the world over. The learned judges know much better than common citizens that all citizens are equal in the eyes of law. When the prosecution presents someone as an accused, the judges do not see who the accused is and what position he holds in the society. They only pronounce verdicts or pass remarks on merit. Our learned judges do keep in view these requirements of law. But if some citizens feel that the spirit of law has been affected in a certain case, it is a moment of introspection for the functionaries of judiciary.