Firmly separate politics and religion, Liberhan says

New Delhi, Nov 24 ( Retired judge M.S. Liberhan, who probed the razing of the 1992 Babri Masjid, has called for a firm separation of religion and politics and sought “exemplary punishment” for those using religion for political ends.

“The events of Dec 6, 1992, and the many subsequent events have already shown to the nation the danger and the disruptive potential of allowing the intermixing of religion and politics,” Liberhan said in his over 1,000-page report placed in parliament Tuesday.

He went on to say that the “use of religion, caste or regionalism is a regressive and dangerous trend, capable of alienating people and dividing them into small sections”.

“I must recommend that the de-merger of religion and politics must be studied and implemented at the earliest.

“It is inherently unfair, and immoral and legally dubious, to hold democracy hostage to religious and casteist blackmail,” the report said in the chapter titled “Recommendations”.

The report sought statutory power for the National Integration Council (NIC) so as “to implement secularism as envisaged by the constitution”.

Saying criminalisation of political office and mixing of political and religious affairs had become the order of the day, he sought a separate law to provide “exemplary punishment for misuse of religion, caste etc. for political gains or illicit acquisition of political or other power”.

“Regional tribunals for ensuring swift prosecution and effective implementation of the law ought to be set up in the four corners of the country,” he said.

“The threat from communal violence needs to be dealt with firmly. Specialized investigating squads need to be formed under the state criminal investigation agency and communal offences or crimes committed during communal riots ought to be vigorously investigated,” he said.

“Governments should not be able to withdraw charges relating to communal riots.”

The report demanded that the Election Commission of India should take “swift action” against people using religion for political ends and possibly disqualify them from holding political office.

It said a government that is formed on the premise of religion or which has religious issues on its political agenda must also be barred.

The incorporation of religious agenda within political manifestos or electoral promises should be made an electoral offence and should incur summary disqualification for the individual or for the political parties, it added.