THE verdict of the Special CBI Court in Lucknow that acquitted all the 32, including India’s former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani and former Bharatiya Janata Party president Murli Manohar Joshi, accused in the Babri mosque demolition case saying that the incident, which took place on December 6, 1992, believed to be the culmination of a revanchist movement, was not pre-planned and was, rather, ‘spontaneous’ appears to have come upon the secular framework of the country’s constitution and the rule of law as a big question mark. The razing of Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque in the town of Ayodhya, on the RSS claim that it stood on top of the location where Ram was born sparked India’s worst sectarian riots which left more than 2,000 people dead and a protracted court case, part of which India’s Supreme Court somehow resolved on November 9, 2019 by giving the control of the site to the Hindus in a verdict amidst heightened security for the construction of a temple that India’s prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated on August 5, 2020.
Devout Hindus believe that the warrior god Ram was born in the place some 7,000 years ago, but the mosque is said to have been built during the time of Mughal ruler Babar on top of Ram’s birthplace. India’s Supreme Court verdict, which was criticised for having tried to strike a kind of balance, with the faith of the Hindus having ruled over the rule of law, that time, however, termed the demolition of the mosque ‘unlawful’ years after it had upheld that the accused, which included more than 30 Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, should be tried for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and inciting the mob. Tens of thousands of supporters of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindu groups, armed with crowbars, pick-axes, spades, hoes and ropes, ‘marching under a banner’, tore down the mosque in 1992 after months of street agitation across India with political mobilisation and a purported intent to gather at the place on the particular day on the pretext of a symbolic ‘kar seva’ for free services to the religious cause. Yet the special court in Lucknow has failed to see any elements of conspiracy in what happened before and on the day the mosque was demolished.
While the specious theory that the incident, which happened after much of orchestration resulting in the death of such a large number of people in addition to the demolition of the mosque, is a ‘spontaneous act’ does not sound tenable, the possibility of the judiciary in India going in close alignment with the executive during the tenure of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the government does not at all sound like a far-fetched idea. Besides, the verdict of the Special CBI Court in Lucknow comes to question the observation of India’s Supreme Court that the demolition of the mosque is ‘unlawful’ having elements of criminal conspiracy.