The judiciary is yet to prove its mettle and show a proactive approach in deciding cases of communal riots, which followed the Babri Masjid demolition, according to the judge who probed the 1992 Mumbai riots.
Former Supreme Court judge, Justice BN Srikrishna, who headed the inquiry panel which probed the riots that claimed over 900 lives and shook Mumbai, has said only Paul the Octopus could predict whether his recommendations would ever be implemented.
Asked about the role of the judiciary in deciding almost two decade old post-Babri Masjid demolition riots cases, Justice Srikrishna told HT in an e-mail response: "My view is that the judiciary has bitten off more than it can chew and it must concentrate on its true role envisaged by the Constitution, viz that of 'judging'."
The judge who submitted his report just five years after being assigned the job in 1993, said: "However, if the judiciary decided to be proactive, this was an occasion (riots cases) where it could have shown its mettle."
In response to a question on whether the families of riots victims would ever get justice, Justice Srikrishna replied: "Your guess is as good as mine..."
He said state governments were not bound by law to implement the recommendations of inquiry panels. "The report is supposed inform the mind of the government of the true facts pertaining to the matter of definite public importance."
Justice Srikrishna said if the non-implementation amounted to betrayal of trust for the victims' families was a "matter of public perception."
Asked about the relevance of inquiry panels, he replied: "The only role left perhaps is that of dissipating pent up public anger and acting as a safety valve for letting off steam. That too is sometimes necessary."
In a clear sign of frustration over his probe report gathering dust, on whether his recommendations would ever be implemented Justice Srikrishna said: "Only Paul, the clairvoyant Octopus, can probably answer this question."
But he refused to comment on the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya issue.
On being branded anti-Hindu by some parties after his report was placed in the Maharashtra assembly in 1998, Justice Srikrishna responded: "Such charges or praise (if there is some on occasions) are so much water off the duck's back, as far as I am concerned."