Court Defers The Use of ASI Report
The Special full Bench of the Allahabad High Court, hearing the Ayodhya title suits on February 3 ruled that the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which carried out excavations to find out whether a temple had ever existed at the place where once the Babri Masjid stood, would be seen only in the light of further evidence in the case. The three-member bench further remarked “no doubt, the objections taken against the report have to be considered before the ASI report is acted upon but that situation will arise only when the court decides the matter finally.”
The court remarked that it would not be advisable nor expedient to make any comments at this stage regarding the correctness or accuracy of the report, or the tenability or otherwise of the objections. Whether the report is biased or suffers from discrepancies or infirmities, or is unacceptable, for various reasons stated in objections have to be considered along with the rest of the evidence that has been brought on record, the Bench added and said that in its considered view this is not the proper stage to pronounce on these points.
The Sunni Central Waqf Board, one of the litigants in the dispute, said it was "vague and self contradictory". They accused the ASI's report of ignoring the discovery of glazed tiles and pottery indicative of Muslim settlements in the area before Babar's invasion. It is very likely, but that does not disprove the existence of a vast structure indicative of a Hindu temple prior to the Babri mosque on the same site. Advocate Zafaryab Jillani, counsel for the board, said that the Waqf board would produce "irrefutable" historical and archeological evidence to challenge the findings. Jillani told the BBC the ASI has "misinterpreted the findings".
The ASI kept their neutrality by declining to make any comments on the team's findings and left the matter to the High Court. The Muslim contestants did not deny the authenticity of the discovery of archeological materials but only differed in their interpretation and refusal to take the evidence as a conclusive showing that the structure was a Hindu temple.
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