The question of whether LK Advani and around a dozen other top leaders including Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi will stand trial on allegations of conspiring to demolish the Babri Masjid will now take another two weeks to be settled.
The Supreme Court today deferred the matter by two weeks due to the non-availability for KK Venugopal, who appears for Advani. The court has asked all parties to file their respective written submissions in the case and has set the next hearing for April 6.
This comes just just two days after the court had recommended an out-of-the-court settlement for the Ayodhya land dispute case.
The apex court is hearing a Central Bureau of Investigation plea to invoke conspiracy charges against the politicians and on March 6 had indicated it was not in favour of dropping the conspiracy charges.
"Something very peculiar is going on in this case," the bench of Justices Nariman and PC Ghose had commented then.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- On December 6, 1992, a large group of kar sevaks began dismantling the centuries-old Babri Masjid, which several Hindus believe stood on the site of a temple that marked the birthplace of lord Ram.
- BJP veteran LK Advani, who had led a nationwide 'rath yatra' the same year, and others including Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Murli Manohar Joshi were near the mosque's the site. They are said to have stood on a raised platform from where several allegedly inflammatory speeches were made.
- Following the demolition of the mosque, two First Information Reports were filed - one in Lucknow, the other in Raebareli. The former dealt with the actual demolition of the Babri Masjid, invoking Indian Penal Code sections relating to robbery, attempt to murder and enticing discord between religious group.
- The Raebareli case, on the other hand, named Advani and others for the speeches they allegedly delivered at the site. The leaders were initially not charged with conspiracy in the matter. Notably, Shiv Sena's firebrand founder Bal Thackeray too was named as an accused, but his named was subsequently dropped following his death in 2012.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation ultimately took over both the cases, at different times. The premier agency then filed a single charge sheet in the matter, seeking to combine the Lucknow and Raebereli cases. The agency also filed fresh charges alleging that Advani and others had actually plotted the Babri demolition.
- The Allahabad High Court later found technical errors in the manner in which the Raebareli case was transferred to the agency. Inaction by successive Uttar Pradesh governments to correct that error eventually led to the cases staying separate.
- Following this, a local court quashed the conspiracy charges against Advani and others, again on a technicality. The CBI appealed this to the Allahabad High Court, which upheld the lower court's order, but allowed the agency to prosecute the accused under the other charges in Raebareli.
- The CBI then appealed the high court ruling to the Supreme Court. On March 6, the bench of Justices Rohinton Fariman and PC Ghose indicated that it was not only likely to let the conspiracy charges stand, but it would also club the Lucknow and Raebareli cases as was originally sought by the agency.
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