New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored criminal conspiracy charges against veteran leader LK Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi and other top leaders of the BJP for the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
The apex court has directed the sessions judge in Lucknow to conduct trial on a daily basis, and that the judge will not be transferred. It also ruled out a fresh trial.
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However, the Supreme Court clarified that Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, won’t be tried due to constitutional immunity unless he ceases to be on post.
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’ or volunteers, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the VVIPs in a Rae Bareli court. With today’s SC order, both these cases are merged.
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani, 89, was originally and 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.
CBI in its charge sheet said that it has evidence that the leaders, who made their speeches on a stage near the mosque on the day that it was razed, were part of the deadly plan to bring down the mosque and that they should, therefore, be tried along with about 20 others in Allahabad who are charged with the actual destruction of the mosque.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court disagreed with the CBI about criminal conspiracy charges for the BJP veterans, which meant that the leaders’ case continued to be heard in Rae Bareli. The CBI has appealed against that decision in the top court.
The agency says that Advani and other BJP leaders met in 1990 and decided that the mosque would be demolished.
At its last hearing about 10 days ago, the Supreme Court indicated it was likely to club the two cases together – that means Advani and his party colleagues would be tried in Lucknow as part of one comprehensive case. Judges also expressed their frustration with the (so-far) twin trials moving slowly over 25 years, and said they could order daily hearings with a two-year deadline for a verdict.
The clubbing of the two cases has been opposed by lawyers for Mr Advani and his colleagues on the grounds that they involve different people as the accused. They also say that the trials are at different stages.
The razing of the Babri Masjid incited nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims; around 2,000 people were killed.