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Liberhan panel counsel surprised at Vajpayee's name in report

india Updated: Nov 23, 2009 23:18 IST

A former counsel to the Liberhan Commission Monday termed as "astonishing" the inclusion of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's name in the "leaked" report indicting him along with other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Anupam Gupta, who was counsel to the Justice M.S. Liberhan Commission for a few years before falling out with the one-judge commission following differences, said that including Vajpayee’s name in the Ayodhya controversy could be termed “illegal”.

“A person who was never given the opportunity to explain his position is said to have been indicted. If this is true, then it would be a travesty of justice and in my opinion even illegal. I am astonished at this,” Gupta told IANS here.

Known as an activist senior lawyer here, Gupta, who is senior standing counsel to the Chandigarh administration now, had cross-examined several BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and others in the case.

It was during the questioning of Advani that Gupta’s cross examination was found "too offensive" by the BJP leader, and Justice Liberhan asked Gupta to tone it down.

“Vajpayee was never summoned or examined by the commission at any stage like other leaders who were cross-examined,” Gupta pointed out.

“The commission had taken a conscious decision not to examine Atal Bihari Vajpayee since he had no apparent role in the demolition of the disputed structure,” he said.

Gupta, who disassociated himself from the inquiry following differences, said he was not involved nor knew the contents of the nearly 900-page report sumitted in June this year by the former Andhra Pradesh high court chief justice.

Both Liberhan and Gupta belong to Chandigarh. Liberhan remained a judge in the Punjab and Haryana high court here, where Gupta practices.

Gupta also questioned the reported exoneration of the then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao government’s role in failure to take effective steps to tackle the demolition of the disputed 16th century structure.

Hindu activists had pulled down the mosque Dec 6, 1992, claiming that the site was the birth place of Hindu god Lord Rama.