Press Release: Three day symposium Fact and Faith: Democracy After the Ayodhya Verdict

Systematic decimation of the basic rational principles of the rule of law laid down in the Indian Constitution, historiography, archaeology and logic are the critical features of the infamous Ayodhya verdict of September 30, said speakers Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice Hosbet Suresh, Justice SHA Raza,

Justice Rajinder Sachar, economist Professor Prabhat Patnaik, historians Professor Irfan Habib and Professor Shireen Moosvi, during the three-day symposium Faith and Fact: Democracy after the Ayodhya Verdict that concluded in Delhi today. Elucidating on the social composition of India’s judiciary as also the inability to bring to book corrupt, casteist and communal practices among Indian judges and lawyers, the discussions and analyses at the symposium also highlighted the need to draw attention to the politics within the judiciary.

Over three days of intense sessions at the symposium, the issues that were discussed included: the consistent failure of the criminal justice system, including non-investigation of the FIR registered on the vandalism of the Babri Masjid on the night of December 23, 1949; the systematic dilution of the criminal cases against the masterminds who instigated the criminal conspiracy behind the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992; and the motivated maligning of historians and archaeologists who testified with evidence during the pendency of the Ayodhya dispute before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court. All these were held to be the collective reason for the passage of a verdict that has seriously shaken the faith of the common Indian in the administration of justice.

The deliberate and conscious absence of any substantive mention of the criminal acts of 1949 and 1992 by the two majority judges while dealing with the title suit was, in the words of advocate Anupam Gupta, counsel for the Liberhans

Commission for over 12 years, the singular injustice in this verdict. The judgements go into thousands of pages over mythology and faith, but ignores the criminal incursions on the Babri Masjid under law. Even worse, the evidence presented by historians and archaeologists in court was formally recorded in monosyllabic answers to deliberately curtail and hide explanations that are critical in explaining historical theory and evidence. Today archaeologists and their publishers face contempt notices served by the Allahabad bench of the Lucknow High Court.
Professor Irfan Habib pointed out that the present government at the Centre was complicit in allowing a flawed report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to stand. A 96-page critique on Justice Sudhir Agarwal’s judgement has been published by the Aligarh Historians Society.
Commemorating the 18th anniversary of December 6, 1992, the symposium was jointly organised by SAHMAT, Communalism Combat and Social Scientist. Over 200 activists, lawyers, artists and academicians gathered to develop a deeper understanding of all the implications of the Ayodhya verdict. Over four dozen organizations represented by activists from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh participated in the deliberations. The assault on the Baba Boudhangiri shrine in Chikmagalur in Karnataka, the vigorous struggle against the divisive hate speech of Swami Adityanath in Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh and other such struggles were reported by them.

Over three days, many speakers made the point that the recent Ayodhya judgement is actually an assault on the Indian Constitution and the foundations of a secular democratic state. The Ayodhya verdict, moreover implicitly justifies the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid and related criminal acts and, if upheld, will have consequences for the future of democracy itself.