The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Panel to hear ‘pivotal’ Kalyan

New Delhi, July 28: The commission probing the run-up to the Babri Masjid demolition has decided to summon Kalyan Singh as a “pivotal witness” but declined to call the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister.

The order came on an application by Mohammad Aslam alias Bhure who sought summoning of all three in the wake of Singh’s allegations that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and others “betrayed” his confidence and “conspired” to demolish the mosque. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board had also made an application seeking Singh’s deposition before the commission.

Singh, the erstwhile BJP leader who was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the mosque was demolished, had last week stepped up his offensive, claiming that Advani had telephoned him from Ayodhya when the Babri Masjid was being razed and asked him not to resign till the kar sevaks had finished the job.

Singh’s outburst had coincided with allegations that the CBI had dropped the conspiracy charge against Advani and several others in a new chargesheet filed before a Rae Bareli court in May this year.

Asking Singh to depose on August 7 and 8, commission chairman Justice M.S. Liberhan said Singh is a “pivotal witness” and it was in the public interest that the truth be unveiled.

Singh had not yet appeared as a witness before the commission, contending that his appearance would prejudice his defence in the CBI’s demolition case.

Singh, who had later declared that he would depose only if Vajpayee and Advani were summoned to appear before the panel on the same day, said tonight in Lucknow that he would comment after consulting his lawyers.

“There can be no doubt that Kalyan Singh is a pivotal witness, especially in the context of rumours or reports about a conspiracy, and if there is any conspiracy, by whom, apart from questions of security, mobilisation of movement, etc. The matter can be more fully, effectively and justly gone into after recording the statement of Kalyan Singh,” the commission said.

The panel said truth should be unveiled and placed before Parliament despite “any individual taking any stand from time to time according to expediency”.

“In my considered view, therefore, in the public interest and to subserve the cause of justice, the examination of Kalyan Singh, especially after the recent exposure made by him in the media, is essential,” the chairman said.

The panel, however, rejected the plea to call Singh as the witness of the Muslim board or of anybody else and said the former chief minister should appear only as the commission’s witness.

Rejecting the application to summon Vajpayee and recall Advani as witnesses, the commission said no useful purpose would be served by such a step.

“Facts which have been referred to by the counsel for summoning Vajpayee are the inference to be drawn from the evidence already on record. I am satisfied that no useful purpose would be served in summoning the Prime Minister at this stage of inquiry…,” Justice Liberhan said.

The commission said the deputy Prime Minister underwent cross-examination for 10 hearings spread over almost a year and “no specific fact or aspect is pointed out even now with respect to which further cross-examination is proposed”.

The Centre had opposed the application seeking to summon the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister on the ground that recording of evidence before the commission had already been completed.

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