The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored the criminal conspiracy charge against senior BJP leaders including LK Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti in the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992.
The apex court also said that the trial against the accused will take place in a time bound manner together with another case currently underway against karsevaks.
The Supreme Court excluded Kalyan Singh, who was the chief minister, when the historic mosque was brought down by militant Hindutva forces led by the BJP. The apex court noted that Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh enjoys Constitutional immunity and can be tried only after he ceases to hold the office.
“We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgement with certain directions,” a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said.
The court also gave significant directions including that separate trials being conducted in trial courts at Raebareli and Lucknow will 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 judgement in the sensational case. The court further said that 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 probe agency 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.
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.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s verdict, Union Minister Uma Bharti said that she remained unapologetic on being part of the movement that caused destruction of the historic mosque.
She told reporters, “I’m ready to sacrifice my life for Ram Mandir. I am unapologetic about being part of Ayodhya movement.”
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the leaders in a Raebareli court.
Altogether, 13 persons including Advani, Joshi and Bharti were discharged of conspiracy charge in the case, the trial of which is being held at a special court in Raebareli.
The second set of case was against unknown ‘karsevaks’ who were in and around the disputed structure and the trial was being held at a court in Lucknow.
The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since dead) and the CBI against dropping of conspiracy charges against BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and 19 others for demolition of the disputed medieval structure on December 6, 1992.
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).
Advani along with party colleagues like Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi, charged with making inflammatory speeches that motivated lakhs of right-wing volunteers or karsevaks to pull down the mosque in 1992.