The Lucknow bench, hearing the Ayodhya title suits, also directed the CBI Director to submit an interim progress report before the court on August 24.
Giving the CBI a free hand, the bench said it can register cases against any officer retired or serving found prima facie responsible.
The CBI shall take over the investigation and complete the same within two months. The Director of CBI shall take all steps for the investigation and if there is any obstruction or difficulty at any stage may report the matter to this court for necessary direction, if required, ruled the bench of Justices S Rafat Alam, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharma.
It appeared that steps taken by the state government to lodge an FIR and thereafter referring the matter to the CBI are only dilatory tactics. In our view, loss of so many files and that too of such a sensitive matter from the Secretariat is a very serious matter, which deserves to be investigated, the bench said.
The state government had lodged an FIR on the missing files at the Hazratganj police station in Lucknow last week and Chief Minister Mayawati had recommended a CBI probe. The government had told the bench that as many as 23 files were missing. It said the files were last taken by an official who died in an accident in New Delhi in 2000.
The bench gave the order for a CBI probe on an application moved by the Sunni Central Board of Waqf, UP and others in 2002 for production of seven documents related to the Ayodhya dispute.
Directing the state government and its officials and police to render full cooperation to the CBI, the bench warned that any offence of obstruction in discharge of official duty would also be treated as contempt of court. It said the probe should examine whether the missing files were actually untraceable, or were lost from the Secretariat and who was responsible for it.
The seven documents included correspondence between the UP government and the Faizabad District Magistrate in 1949 and a telex message of then PM Jawaharlal Nehru to the state government.