Opening of Babri mosque locks was illegal: High Court
The special bench of Lucknow High Court, while pronouncing verdict in Babri Masjid-Ramjanma Bhoomi case on September 30, had also indicted the district judge Faizabad who had allowed the opening of the locks of the mosque in 1986.
The court said opening of locks on February 1, 1986 was not only illegal but was prelude to the demolition of mosque on December 6, 1992.
One of the judges in three-member bench Justice SU Khan expressed surprise over the hasty manner in which the district court bypassing well laid legal procedure directed the Faizabad administration to open the locks.
During Rajiv Gandhi regime one Umesh Chandra Pandey had moved an application in Faizabad Court on January 28, 1986 for opening of the locks. The Muslims had then accused the Rajiv Gandhi government of facilitating the opening of locks. The mosque was locked on December 23, 1949 after the idols were placed under the central dome.
Indicting the district court Justice Khan said “it is a sound principle that not only justice must be done but it must also appear to be done. Before passing the judgment dated 1.2.1986 the learned District judge (KM Pandey) first buried the second limb of the principle (appearance of justice) very deep. Probably the learned judge was of the view that he would not be able to pass the order (which obviously, according to him, must have been a just order) in case he bothered about the appearance of justice being done. This obviously shook the faith of the parties affected by the judgment which was the real tragedy”.
The HC after 24 years has now declared the entire process illegal. Since the application of Mohd Hashim who intervened in local court opposing opening of locks was then rejected he had moved High Court in 1986 and it was simultaneously decided on September 30, 2010.
Justice Khan said since Umesh Chandra was not a party in the suit, his appeal was not maintainable. “It is quite interesting to note that a person who was a party in the connected suit which was leading case was considered to be neither necessary nor proper party by the District Judge (KN Pandey), however, Umesh Chand Pandey who was not a party in the suit was held entitled to file appeal which was also allowed”.
The high court said the district court had wrongly rejected the impleadment application of Mohd Hashim “as a result of which there was no one to oppose the appeal as District Magistrate and SP categorically supported the appeal”.
Since the file of the leading case was pending in High Court, Justice Khan said “without the file of the leading case no order could be passed either by the Munsif or by the district judge”.
While pointing out that there was absolutely no occasion to show such undue haste, the HC said the appeal for opening of locks was filed on January 31, 1986, and was allowed on February 1, 1986. “At least the reason for this extreme haste is not mentioned in the judgment”, Justice Khan said.
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