Mixing religion with politics dangerous: Liberhan

Mixing religion with politics dangerous: Liberhan

In this file photograph taken on December 6, 1992, Hindu fundamentalists attack the wall of the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. AFPThe 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 Houses of Parliament by Home Minister P Chidambaram.

The 13-page Action Taken Report (ATR), 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 BJP 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.

"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 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 which 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.

The Commission also recommended that political leaders, holders of Constitutional offices, Offices of Profit, specially those holding Cabinet positions sometimes simultaneously hold offices in religious organisations and trusts which could colour one's judgement.

The government said it accepts the observation in part and feels that political leaders holding public office, should not simultaneously hold offices in religious organisations.
Justice Liberhan recommended that the Election Commission must ensure that any complaints brought before it of attempts to misuse religious sentiments should result in swift action and possible disqualification. Government said the matter will be referred to the EC.

The Commission said while it cannot prescribe a Code of Conduct or regulations for the running of the democratic process, it would recommend that the de-merger of religion and politics be studied and implemented at the earliest.

The report said the government which is formed on the premise of religion or which has religious issues on its political agenda must be barred.

"A government which is formed by professing its support to a particular religion or which has a religious issue or purpose as its stated agenda must therefore fall foul of the explicit and implicit proscriptions of the Constitution," it said.
The government promised to examine the matter.

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