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Babri Demolition Case: SC Orders Criminal Conspiracy Trial Against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti

Debayan Roy |

Updated: April 19, 2017, 4:38 PM IST
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Babri Demolition Case: SC Orders Criminal Conspiracy Trial Against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti
File image of L K Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti.(Image: Network 18)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered to restore the criminal conspiracy charges against top BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Setting aside an earlier Allahabad High Court order of dropping the criminal conspiracy charges against the accused, the bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to go ahead with the plea.

The court also clubbed the trial in the matter pending against the BJP leaders and ‘karsevaks’. The court directed separate trials at Rae Bareli and Lucknow be clubbed and conducted in the capital of Uttar Pradesh only. It also said that the trial judge of Lucknow “shall not be transferred” till conclusion and delivery of judgment in the case.

The court said no party shall be granted adjournment without the sessions judge being satisfied of the reasons for it and conduct day-to-day trial which should be concluded within two years. It also directed CBI to ensure that prosecution witnesses appear on each and every date for recording of evidence in the case and the trial court should start the proceedings within four weeks from today (April 19). It, however, clarified that there would be no de novo (fresh) trial in the matter.

The bench also directed that its order should be followed in letter and spirit and granted liberty to the parties to approach it if its directions are not followed.

ALSO READ | Babri Masjid Demolition: Timeline of The 25-Year-Old Case

There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’, the trial of which was taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second trial involving cases related to the political leaders was taking place in a Rae Bareli court.

Uma Bharti, who is Minister for Water Resources in the Narendra Modi government, will now face trial under fresh charges of criminal conspiracy. This also raises questions as to whether she will have to resign from her post.

Another accused, Kalyan Singh, former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, stands protected for now due to the immunity enjoyed by his current office as the Governor of Rajasthan. However, charges will be framed against him once he ceases to be the governor.

The order came after the CBI pleaded before the apex court, seeking restoration of conspiracy charges against the accused. The CBI had charge-sheeted Advani and 20 others under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the IPC. It had subsequently invoked charges under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, which was quashed by the special court, whose decision was upheld by the high court.

Besides BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh (currently the Governor of Rajasthan), Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died).

The others against whom the conspiracy charges were dropped include Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Satish Pradhan, C R Bansal, Ashok Singhal (now deceased), Sadhvi Ritambhara, Mahant Avaidhynath (now deceased), R V Vedanti, Paramhans Ram Chandra Das (now deceased), Jagdish Muni Maharaj, B L Sharma, Nritya Gopal Das, Dharam Das, Satish Nagar and Moreshwar Save (now deceased).

First Published: April 19, 2017, 11:42 AM IST
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