April 21, 2017

India: Supreme Court imparts some momentum to interminable Babri Masjid trial (Editorial, The Times of India, 21 April 2017)

The Times of India

Booster shot: Supreme Court imparts some momentum to interminable Babri Masjid trial

April 21, 2017, 2:00 am IST in TOI Editorials 
The Supreme Court has restored charges of criminal conspiracy against top BJP leaders including former deputy prime minister LK Advani, cabinet minister Uma Bharti and veteran Murli Manohar Joshi in the 25-year-old Babri demolition case, even as it ordered proceedings to be wrapped up in two years through day-to-day hearings. This is a response to tardy progress in the case, even as adjournment after adjournment ruled the roost and authorities seemingly demonstrated no will to push it forward.
Tellingly, CBI had noted three years back “the delay has been occasioned because everyone associated with the matter was cautious, keeping in mind the sensitivity involved in the matter.” While delays in India’s justice system are notorious communal cases, in particular, can be kept pending for decades – a major part of the reason why communal riots keep happening in India. It’s in the interest of everybody, including the accused, that the law takes its own course and proceedings reach a swift conclusion instead of being interminably delayed. That is also why BJP must resist the temptation of politicising the case.
Following BJP’s sweeping victory in recent UP elections, there has been an attempt in some quarters to normalise the notion that the inevitable denouement of the demolition of the Babri Masjid ought to be construction of a Ram temple at the site. Such a move, however, is fraught with danger as it repudiates freedom of religion enjoined by the Constitution. It’s just as well, therefore, that the Supreme Court has noted that the demolition is indicative of “crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India”. Against that backdrop, Union minister Uma Bharti seeing nothing wrong with the demolition sounds like open defiance of the law of the land. That is not what union ministers – or any minister for that matter – ought to be doing.