Sunday, October 17, 2010

Allahabad High Court Verdict - P.W. 15, Sushil Srivastava

On behalf of the plaintiffs (Suit-4), 32 witnesses have been examined in all which include Expert Historians (as they claimed) namely Suresh Chandra Mishra, PW 13; Sushil Srivastava, PW 15; Prof. Suvira Jaiswal, PW 18; and Prof. Shirin Musvi, PW-20.

PW 15, Sushil Srivastava is a Historian working on the post of Professor in Maharaja Saya Ji Rao University Baroda. During the course of examination, he rejoined 1484 Allahabad University. He deposed to have seen inscriptions and has further said that the same appears to have been written in Persian. The script is in Arbo-Persian. He is also author of a book on the subject titled as “The Disputed Mosque – A Historical Enquiry” which was published in 1991. 

With regard to the date of construction of the disputed building, inscriptions and his book, PW 15 in his cross examination has said:
  • “Neither I can read nor write Persian. I can also not read Arabic Language nor can write it. I have no sound knowledge of Sanskrit also."
  • “It is correct that my father-in-law helped me a lot in reading and writing, i.e., in interpreting the Persian language, which neither I can read nor write.
  • My father-in-law is a scholar of Arabic and Persian languages. The script or inscriptions which I had seen at the disputed site, were in Persian language and script. It is correct that I acquired knowledge about Persian language and script from my father in law. Further said, it is correct to say that I acquired knowledge from my father in law, about script and inscriptions found at the disputed site."
  • “In my book I have written about the three inscriptions after getting the same translated in English. For English transcription I have requested my father-in-law and got it done from him. I have written in my book that the style of Calligraphy on inscriptions creates doubt whether this mosque was constructed by Babar or not. It is correct that the basis of the aforesaid fact is that my father-in-law realized so. I have written this fact in my book.”
  • “I have not studied Science of Calligraphy. I have also not studied the subject of Epigraphy.”
  • “It is true that, in the foot note of my book, I have mentioned those books too which I have not read.”
  • “I had not seen in revenue records, the three villages, which I have mentioned in the appendix and have written only on the basis of Gazetteer. I did not find out as to in which village the disputed site lay. I saw in Gazetteer that the disputed site is in Nuzul.”
  • “I did not pay attention on this fact, as to whether the inscriptions were installed from the beginning or installed subsequently.”
  • “I have not read any authoritative book about the historicity of Babari Masjid, read historical accounts of British Administrative Officers and gazetteers only. I have not read any authentic book of any Indian or Turkish or Foreign Muslim on the Babari Mosque only.”
  • "....Later on, someone told me that these are written in 935 AH, further said, Prof. Radhey Shyam had told me this fact that these inscription were written in 935 A.H. and I took the same to be true. I also read this fact in the book of Beverige. The aforesaid two writers had drawn the said conclusion on deciphering the epigraphy of the inscriptions and I considered the same to be true.”
  • “I could not reach with certainty to the conclusion as to which period the disputed structure pertains but it relates prior to the Mughal period.”
  • “I have no knowledge of Epigraphy. I have no knowledge of Numismatic. I did not acquire any specialization in archaeology. I did not acquire knowledge about survey of land. I did not acquire any specialized knowledge in Science of Architecture. I did not acquire any knowledge of Turkish, Arabic and Persian  too.”
  • “It is true that I have a very little knowledge of history.”
  • “The name of my wife is Mehar Afshan Farooqui. My marriage has been solemnized as civil marriage, i.e., under Special Marriage Act. Thereafter my Nikah too was performed. Name of my father in law is Shamshul Rehman Farooqui. I have adopted Islam religion at the time of my Nikah. When I adopted Islam religion, at that time, I was given a new name Sajid. Presently, I am neither a Hindu nor a Muslim................ I married according to Islamic rites. I made nomenclature of my children in Persian language. It is not so that I have some special interest in Persian Language. Necessity of Nikah after registration of marriage, arose with a view to obtain approval of my in-laws and for social recognition it was essential to do so. They had given me a choice that I should perform Nikah. This choice of my in-laws was, in fact, my choice. (Further said). Choice of mine too could be only this. For materialization of Nikah it was necessary to be a Musalman. Therefore, I got converted as a Muslim."
  • "My wife encouraged me for this work. In the Preface of my book I have written that Mehar Afshan Farooqi started persuading me to popularize the historical truth."
  • “I passed B.A. in 1970, M.A. in 1972 in Political Science and thereafter, passed M.A. in Modern History in 1974. It is true that after 11 years of continuous efforts I secured Ph.D. Degree in 1989. Meanwhile, I was appointed on ad hoc basis in Allahabad University in 1974. This ad hoc appointment was made as a Lecturer. In 1989 I became Reader also."
  • "In 1988 my research was not complete and was under process."
  • “It was only after 1988 publication that my luck brightened up, I acquired degree of Doctorate and I was appointed Reader also. When I became Reader and was conferred Ph.D. Degree, Sri Wahiuddin Malick was the Vice Chancellor of Allahabad University. It is also correct that, at that time the Chief Minister of U.P. was Mulayam Singh Yadav."

They also pointed out that though he was registered for Ph.D. in 1978 having passed M.A. in Modern History in 1974 but could not complete Ph.D. for a decade. It is only in 1988 when Sri Vahiuddin Mullick was the Vice Chancellor of Allahabad University and Chief Minister of U.P. was Sri Mulayam Singh Yadav he was conferred Ph.D. in 1989. 

Sri M.M. Pandey, Sri H.S. Jain and Sri R.L. Verma all the learned counsels stated that PW 15 converted himself a 'muslim' for the purpose of marriage and also changed his name as 'Sajid' but has appeared in the witness box mentioning his name as Sushil Srivastava and this also shows lack of bonafide on his part and refers to his statement on page 49 and 50:
  • “It is correct that as per requirement I use to say myself Sajid as well as Sushil.”
  • “I have not sworn in the name of 'Khuda', instead I have sworn in the name of 'Ishwar'.”
  • “My name is not Sajid. I have got converted my religion and have become a Muslim but to me, the religion has no significance. I believe in Adharma (atheism).”
They also pointed out that the wife of PW 15 is well qualified being M.A. in Medieval History and D.Phil. with specialisation in “Economic Policy of Delhi Sultanate” which she did in 1988 but her father was not a Historian and instead a Government servant, a member of Indian Postal Service and retired therefrom as is evident from page 50: 
  • “My father-in-law was posted in Indian Postal Services. He also is a literary critic and work as such.”

Here one more aspect we need to mention. Though the witness has been produced as Expert Historian but on page 222 he admits that he had a very little knowledge of history. That being so according to own statement of the witness his statement cannot be taken as an opinion of an Expert Historian and, therefore, inadmissible under Section 45 of the Evidence Act. 

Even otherwise, the extract of his statement we have noticed above make it clear that neither the witness has made any threadbare inquiry into the matter nor has done his job honestly yet has written a book based on hearse and has claimed it to be a book written by an Expert. He admits that he cannot read Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit and Urdu (Page 33). 

He admits that despite being historian he has accepted whatever said by others on the basis of their alleged scholarly feeling and wrote it in his book as a statement of fact (page 38). He has never studied either Calligraphy or Epigraphy (Page 51) but has made statement and recorded finding in this regard in his book. On page 65 he admits that he has raised doubt on the Calligraphy style of the text of the inscription at Babri mosque but simultaneously admits that he had not the least knowledge of art and science of Calligraphy. 

We in fact find it surprising with the kind of dishonesty, such person has shown. In his book he has given in the footnote reference of a number of books which he admits that he had never studied (page 68). 

  • On page 77 he say that he did not pay attention on the fact whether the inscriptions were installed from the beginning or installed subsequently but on page 217 admits that he has written on page 89 of his book that there is a possibility that the inscriptions might have been installed subsequently. 
  • On page 106 on the one hand he admits that he lacks knowledge of Epigraphy, Numismatic, Archeology, Survey of Land, Science of Architecture, Turkish, Arabic and Persian language yet simultaneously he says that though the period of construction of the disputed structure, he could not conclude but according to him it relates prior to Mughal period. 

We are sorry to find that a person like PW 15 has written a book on such an important and sensitive matter without having made an in-depth study on the subject and has deposed before us claiming himself to be an Expert Historian though simultaneously admit that he has a very little knowledge of history. 

On page 218 and 219 again contradicting his earlier statement he said that he has made research on the question as to how much old and of which period the inscriptions are and found that the inner inscription appears to be new from the style of calligraphy while the outer one is old. Despite admitting the fact that he has no knowledge of calligraphy he has made such comments on calligraphy of the text of inscription which is not expected from a responsible Expert Historian. 

Besides his statement ex facie appears to be incorrect in view of the admitted position as also mentioned in Epigraphica Indica (1965) published by ASI that there were three inscriptions out of which two got misplaced in 1934 and were restored by new one which had some mistakes and did not contain the correct original text.

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