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Babri Masjid hearing: Lucknow court asks Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti to appear on 30 May

A Lucknow court on Wednesday asked senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani and Uma Bharti to appear before it on 30 May for framing of charges in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.

The latest development comes after reports suggested a CBI court was likely to frame charges against Advani and other accused in the 1992 case.

The court on Thursday had granted bail to former Shiv Sena MP Satish Pradhan after he surrendered in another Babri Masjid demolition case. Special CBI court judge SK Yadav granted him bail on two sureties of Rs 20,000 each and a personal bond of the same amount.

Pradhan appeared in the court and moved a surrender application, which was allowed and he was sent to judicial custody, special public prosecutor CBI Lalit Kumar Singh, said adding that he later moved a bail plea.

The special court, which began day-to-day hearing in the politically sensitive case on 20 May after a Supreme Court direction, had earlier granted bail to five VHP leaders in this case. Besides Ram Vilas Vedanti (59), those who were granted relief by the CBI court on Saturday were VHP leaders Champat Rai (71), Baikunth Lal Sharma (88), Mahant Nritya Gopal Das (79) and Dharmdas Maharaj (68).

Pradhan had failed to appear on Saturday and also on Monday. The CBI court on Wednesday also ordered framing of charges against the accused in light of the Supreme Court order dated 19 April, 2017.

File image of former deputy prime minister LK Advani. Reuters

File image of LK Advani. Reuters

The Supreme Court had on 19 April directed that Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi will face trial on conspiracy charges. It had transferred their case from Raebareli to Lucknow. It directed the special court to start proceedings in the matter within a month and deliver its verdict within two years.

The apex court had dubbed the demolition of the medieval era monument as a "crime" which shook the "secular fabric of the Constitution" and allowed CBI's plea on restoration of serious offence of criminal conspiracy against the VVIP accused.

In its 40-page judgment, it had termed the Allahabad High Court's 12 February 2001 verdict dropping conspiracy charge against Advani and others as "erroneous". The matter is likely to have political implications, particularly against 89-year-old Advani, reported to be front-runner for the post of President of India. The apex court had also come down heavily on the CBI for the 25-year delay in the trial.

It said "the accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the state government".

While a chargesheet in the Lucknow court was filed in October 1993, a supplementary chargesheet was filed in November 1996. A supplementary chargesheet was also filed in May 2003 in Raebareli court.

With inputs from PTI


Published Date: May 25, 2017 14:33 PM | Updated Date: May 25, 2017 14:33 PM

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