Babri Masjid demolition: SC calls for speedy trial with Advani, Uma Bharti to face charges again

The Supreme Court of India has expressed its concern over the pace of the proceedings of Babri Masjid demolition case and is going to take a decision on those accused on 22 March. The apex court has called for a joint trial and is likely to club the Raebareli and Lucknow cases. The cases pending in the two cities will be heard in Lucknow.

Hindu kar sevaks tearing down the walls of the Babri Masjid in 1992. AFP

Hindu kar sevaks tear down walls of the Babri Masjid in 1992. AFP

According to The Financial Express, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi are likely to face conspiracy charges in the case. In 2010, Allahabad high court had discharged Advani and other senior leaders of the party and Hindu outfits on charges of criminal conspiracy in the 1992 demolition of the 16th Century mosque. Hindustan Times reported, the decision was taken after a bench of justices RS Nariman  and PC Ghosh heard a CBI petition challenging the Allahabad High Court's dropping of conspiracy charges against these leaders.

"We will not accept the discharge on technical grounds and we will allow supplementary charge sheet," the bench said. These observations were made orally during a brief hearing by the bench.

According to The Times of IndiaThe CBI had moved the apex court on 18 February, 2011 against the Allahabad court's verdict. The CBI had issued a charge sheet against Advani and 20 others under sections 153A IPC (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).

However, it subsequently invoked charges of criminal conspiracy which were quashed by the special court with the decision being upheld by the high court. The court order of May 2010 had said that there was no merit in the petition by the CBI.

The demolition was historically one of the biggest events in post-partition era.The RSS-led organisations have been trying to push for pushing the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site as they believe Ram was born there. NDTV reports say, the apex court told CBI that they will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds. The court will allow CBI to file a supplementary charge sheet against 13 persons by including the conspiracy charges. The Supreme Court will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial. The decision comes just days before the last phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and the results of five Assembly elections.

Advani's lawyer had opposed this and told the court that if charges are added, then 183 witnesses who had deposed at the Raebareli lower court would have to be called again. Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray's name was also there on the list of accused but it was removed after his death.

During the hearing, the bench also said that supplementary charge sheet was filed against eight persons but not against the 13 who were discharged. Besides, BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh (presently Governor of Rajasthan), Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died). The others against whom the conspiracy charge was 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). In September 2015, the CBI had told the apex court that

In September 2015, the CBI had told the apex court that its decision-making was not influenced by anyone and the dropping of criminal conspiracy charge against senior BJP leaders in the case was not at its instance. "The decision-making process of the CBI is completely independent. All decisions are taken based on correct facts in the light of the extant law. There is no question of any person, body or institution influencing the decision-making process of CBI or the manner in which it pursues its cases in courts," the agency had said in an affidavit.

The agency had said its decision-making process was carried out strictly in accordance with the provisions of CBI Crime Manual and there was a "hierarchic" mechanism that allowed officers at each level to take decisions and make reasoned recommendations in an independent manner. (with inputs from PTI)

Updated Date: Mar 06, 2017 18:19 PM

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