The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday ordered the CBI to take over the investigation into missing files related to Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri mosque land dispute and complete it within two months after observing it is a "very serious matter."
The High Court's Lucknow bench hearing the Ayodhya title suits, while passing the order, also directed the CBI director to submit an interim progress report before the court on August 24 -- the next date of hearing.
Giving a free hand to the CBI, the court said it can register cases against any officer retired or serving found prima facie responsible and also fresh cases if the agency finds it necessary.
"The CBI shall take over the investigation and complete the same within two months. The director of CBI shall take all steps for the above investigation and if it finds any obstruction or difficulty at any stage may report the matter to this court for necessary direction, if required," the bench said. The bench comprised Justices S Rafat Alam, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharma.
"It appeared that steps taken by the state government to lodge a FIR and thereafter referring the matter to CBI is only dilatory tactics. In our views, loss of so many files and that too of such a sensitive matter from the Secretariat is a very serious matter, which deserves to be investigated," the court observed.
The judges said that while making investigations if the CBI found any fresh offence(s), it would be open for registering as many FIRs as it finds expedient which would be in furtherance of the case lodged with Hazratganj police station by the state government.
The court gave the order on an application moved by Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, UP and others in 2002 for production of seven documents related to Ramjanmabhoomi/Babri mosque dispute.
The state government during the course of the court hearing admitted that 23 files related to the title suit were missing
Directing the state government and its officials and police to render full cooperation to the CBI, the court said that any offence of obstruction in discharge of official duty would also be treated as a contempt of court.
The court said whether the missing files were actually untraceable, or were lost from the Secretariat and who is responsible for it if it is lost should be part of the probe.
Besides, if the files were taken out of the Secretariat premises, who permitted the said documents to be taken out of the premises and in what circumstances, should be investigated, the bench observed.
"Whether non-availability or disappearance of the files is deliberate and due to the involvement of some official of the Secretariat and if so, whether it is a part of some conspiracy to obstruct hearing of this matter, should be another aspect of the probe", the court said.The seven documents included correspondence between UP government and Faizabad district Magistrate in 1949, a telex message of the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru to the state government for removal of idols from the Babri mosque. In May 2009, Chief Secretary Atul Kumar Gupta filed an affidavit in the court stating, 'it is not possible to say beyond any doubt whether these documents existed or not' and submitted that the existence of the said documents cannot be established.