HC judge exposed experts espousing Masjids cause
Waqf Board Line-Up Accused Of Having Ostrich-Like Attitude
Abhinav Garg | TNN
New Delhi: The role played by independent experts historians and archaeologists who appeared on behalf of the Waqf Board to support its claim has come in for criticism by one Allahabad High Court judge in the Ayodhya verdict.
While the special bench of three judges unanimously dismissed objections raised by the experts to the presence of a temple,it was Justice Sudhir Agarwal who put their claims to extended judicial scrutiny.
Most of these experts deposed twice.Before the ASI excavations,they said there was no temple beneath the mosque and,after the site had been dug up,they claimed what was unearthed was a mosque or a stupa.
During lengthy cross-examination spread over several pages and recorded by Justice Agarwal,the historians and experts were subjected to pointed queries about their expertise,background and basis for their opinions.
To the courts astonishment,some who had written signed articles and issued pamphlets,were withering under scrutiny and the judge said they were displayed an ostrich-like attitude to facts.He also pointed out how the independent witnesses were connected one had done a PhD under the other,another had contributed an article to a book penned by a witness.
Some instances underlined by the judge are: Suvira Jaiswal deposed whatever knowledge I gained with respect to disputed site is based on newspaper reports or what others told (other experts).She said she prepared a report on the Babri dispute on basis of discussions with medieval history expert in my department. Supriya Verma,another expert who challenged the ASI excavations,had not read the ground penetration radar survey report that led the court to order an excavation.She did her PhD under another expert Shireen F Ratnagar.
Verma and Jaya Menon alleged that pillar bases at the excavated site had been planted but HC found they were not present at the time the actual excavation took place.
Archaeologist Shereen F Ratnagar has written the introduction to the book of another expert who deposed,Professor Mandal.She admitted she had no field experience.
Normally,courts do not make adverse comments on the deposition of a witness and suffice it to consider whether it is credible or not,but we find it difficult to resist ourselves in this particular case considering the sensitivity and nature of dispute and also the reckless and irresponsible kind of statements… the judge noted.
He said opinions had been offered without making a proper investigation,research or study in the subject.The judge said he was startled and puzzled by contradictory statements.When expert witness Suraj Bhan deposed on the Babri mosque,the weight of his evidence was contradicted by anotherexpert for Muslim parties,Shirin Musavi,who told the court that Bhan is an archaeologist and not an expert on medieval history.
Justice Agarwal noted that instead of helping in making a cordial atmosphere it tends to create more complications,conflict and controversy. He pointed out that experts carry weight with public opinion.
3 main parties meet,discuss a formula
Unfazed by plans of others to approach the SC,three main parties in the Ayodhya title suitsRamjanmabhoomi Trust,Hashim Ansari and Nirmohi Akharaon Friday came together for the first time on a public platform and discussed a formula for a negotiated settlement.Panch Ram Das of Nirmohi Akhara,Ramvilas Vedanti of Ramjanmabhoomi Trust and Hashim Ansari held a meeting at the residence of Hanuman Garhi Mahant Gyan Das and discussed ways to find a solution.PTI