Babri Masjid demolition: Advani, Joshi, others to face criminal conspiracy charges, rules SC
The Supreme Court today allowed CBI appeal challenging withdrawal of criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders L K Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi and Union minister Uma Bharti and 18 others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
A bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman pronounced the judgement and ordered that the case should be concluded within 2 years' time.
The court also clubbed the trial in the matter pending against the leaders and 'karsevaks' and ordered day-to-day trial with the proceedings to be completed in two years.
"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.
However, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Governor of Rajasthan Kalyan Singh has been excluded from the charges as he enjoys Constitutional immunity and will be tried only after he ceases to hold office.
Others who will face criminal conspiracy charges are Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal & Late Giriraj Kishore.
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.
It also directed the 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, made it clear 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.
Following the Supreme Court’s order, Congress demanded resignation of the BJP leaders accused in the case, including Union Minister Uma Bharti and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha has said that the charges against senior leaders, like LK Advani, are “a message for BJP”.
Senior party leader Kapil Sibal said that Congress will demand resignation of Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh.
"It's substantial step forward in the cause of justice. Means the majesty of law has been upheld, happy about that," said Sibal.
“So much of efforts have been made by BJP so that justice is not prevailed. But justice delayed is justice denied. Those BJP leaders who are accused should give their resignation. By doing this they should give the message of mortality. They should also accept what court has said,” said Congress leader Pramod Tiwari.
On April 6, the apex court had reserved its order as CBI had sought initiation of conspiracy charges against the saffron party leaders.
The bench had also said since 25 years have already passed, in the interest of justice, it would consider ordering time-bound trial on day-to-day basis, to be completed preferably within two years.
The CBI is contesting the May 2010 order by the Allahabad High Court absolving Advani and others of the charge of criminal conspiracy that led to the razing of the 16th century mosque.
The apex court had on March 31 issued notices to Advani and others asking them to file their replies on the plea by the CBI.
The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505 (false statements, rumours etc. circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
However, all the charges were quashed by the special court whose decision was upheld by the Allahabad HC.