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Mixing religion with politics dangerous: Liberhan report

Last updated on: November 24, 2009 14:47 IST
The Liberhan Commission that probed the Babri Masjid demolition on Tuesday came down heavily on mixing politics and religion and has recommended a law providing for exemplary punishment for such misuse to acquire political power.

The voluminous report of the Commission, which was submitted in June, 17 years after it was set up under chairmanship of Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, was tabled in both the Houses of Parliament by Home Minister P Chidambaram.

The 13-page Action Taken Report , tabled by the Home Minister, said the government accepted the recommendation and is contemplating enactment of the Communal Violence Bill to prevent and control riots and setting up special courts to deal with them.

The ATR makes no reference to the indictment of top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and leaders of various Sangh Parivar outfits made in the report.

The Commission was constituted ten days after the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. The Commission said the Constitutional scheme to separate religion from politics was intended to insulate issues of governance from those of theology.

The Commission said 'while it may be useful and indeed desirable to import certain aspects of ethics and morality into the political arena, the use of religion, caste or regionalism is a regressive and dangerous trend capable of alienating people and dividing them into small sections.'

Justice Liberhan said the events of December 6, 1992 and the many subsequent events have already shown to the nation the danger and the disruptive potential of allowing the inter-mixing of religion and politics.

He said the extraneous interference in democratic affairs for acquiring political power through criminalisation of political office or mixing of political and religious affairs has become the order of the day.

"A separate law providing for exemplary punishment for misuse of religion, caste, etc. for political gains or illicit acquisition of political or other power ought to be enacted," the report noted.

"Regional tribunals for ensuring swift prosecution and effective implementation of the law ought to be set up in the four corners of the country," the report said.

The ATR said it accepted the recommendation and one of the measures contemplated is the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims), which envisions the setting up of Special Courts.

As regards cases arising out of Babri Masjid demolition, the ATR refers to cases filed against eight accused and 47 other cases in a special court in Rae Bareli, and case against unknown 'kar sewaks'. Steps will be taken to expedite the hearing of these cases, it said.

The ATR, however, rejected as not practical the recommendation of the Commission that the National Integration Council should be conferred statutory powers and its members should be barred from holding any Constitutional office or Office of Profit or Public Office or from participation in any political activity.

The Commission suggested the desirability of establishing a Criminal Justice Commission that would comprehensively monitor the performance of all law enforcement agencies and apply corrective measure wherever needed.

The government said Law Commission will be requested to study the desirability of establishing a Criminal Justice Commission. Another recommendation made by the Commission relates to the need to deal firmly with the threat from communal violence.

It said specialised investigating squads need to be formed under the state criminal investigation agencies and communal offences or crimes committed during riots should be vigorously investigated.

Government should not be able to withdraw charges relating to communal riots, it said. The ATR said the government accepted the recommendation and one of the measures in the Communal Violence Bill contemplates the setting up of special courts.

External link to Liberhan Commission report

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