‘Judges today don’t work for people, they only work for the govt.’
1993 Mumbai riots survivor says judiciary has become silent spectator
Farooq Mapkar, a survivor of the 1993 riots in Mumbai, on Thursday said the special CBI court’s judgment acquitting all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case shows that the “judges today don’t work for people, they only work for the government”.
He was speaking at a virtual conference titled ‘Babri Demolition Judgment – Yet Another Nail in Democracy’s Coffin’. Mr. Mapkar said, “The judiciary has just become silent spectators to what is happening around. The judges have the time to listen to [actor] Kangana Ranaut because her house was demolished, but what about us [Muslims]. We are never heard. The BJP is in [power] at the Centre and the State, that is why cases like the Hathras [gangrape] take place. We need to stand up to this and fight.”
Referring to the Liberhan Commission, human rights activist Teesta Setalvad said, “The report has nailed the criminals leading the entire movement, which started in 1986 and led to the demonising of Muslims and gender-targeted violence.”
Headed by Justice M.S. Liberhan, the commission was set up on December 16, 1992, to probe the sequence of events that led to the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. The commission submitted its report 16 years later to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 30, 2009.
Ms. Setalvad said Wednesday’s verdict is a “travesty of justice and goes to show that the judiciary cannot withstand the political might when it comes to the Ram Janambhoomi”.
Senior advocate Mihir Desai said those acquitted in the case are cowards and the judgment is “unfortunate but not unexpected”.
He said in 2011, when the charge of conspiracy was dropped against the accused and the Supreme Court said they must be charged with conspiracy. However, the judgment says there was no conspiracy.
Mr. Desai said, “People were there on the site despite [the imposition of] Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which makes the assembly of more than five people unlawful, so they should have been at least convicted under that. Even if the judgment is written on a philosophy, you [judges] have to at least rely on the evidence.”
Senior journalist Meena Menon said despite several incendiary speeches and videos being recorded in the run up to the demolition, the court noted that there was no evidence to prove the hatching of a conspiracy. “Justice won’t come out in this government and people are now looking to providence for justice,” she said.
Lawyer and activist Flavia Agnes said that there was no pressure to expedite the criminal trial, which went on for 28 years. “The right wing leaders boasted about what happened [the demolition] and the court said all the evidence was doctored. What is the rule of law then. What is the fear of the judiciary?” she said,
Lawyer and activist Shakil Ahmed said the judgment is not surprising as the BJP is in power both in the Centre and in the State. He said, “Everything has been done in an unconstitutional way.”
The conference was organised by the Bebaak Collective, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Forum Against Oppression of Women and People’s Union for Civil Liberties.