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15 years, and still inquiring

with the latest extension, the panel's probe into the Babri mosque demolition enters its 15th year, reports Anil Anand.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2007 16:22 IST
Anil Anand

The country's longest-running inquiry has just got a little longer. On Monday, the Liberhan Commission got its 15th extension for another three months.

The panel, headed by MS Liberhan, a retired high court chief justice, was set up on December 16, 1992 to probe the circumstances leading to the demolition of the Babri Masjid 10 days earlier. It was to submit its report within three months. According to Home Ministry officials, the probe has already cost the taxpayer Rs 6.3 crore.

When contacted by HT, Liberhan refused to comment on the delay in filing the report. He said queries should be directed at the commission’s counsel, Anupam Gupta.

For his part, Gupta said the panel would try hard to meet the fresh deadline without compromising the report’s “quality and objectivity”.

He also indicated that the inordinate length of time the panel had spent on the investigation, and in preparing the report, would be accounted for in the report.

The commission had the task of examining a galaxy of witnesses from across the political spectrum: PV Narasimha Rao, LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kalyan Singh, who was chief minister when the Babri Masjid was brought down.

Kalyan Singh, the key witness, was the last to appear before the commission. He had petitioned the Delhi High Court to restrain the panel from forcing him to depose. The petition was dismissed.

Email Anil Anand: aanand@hindustantimes.com