- LK Advani, MM Joshi & Uma Bharti will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case: SC
- Daily hearings to take place in the CBI Court in Lucknow to ensure that verdict is delivered in two years
- Ruling came on an appeal filed by the CBI against Allahabad HC’s order that disagreed on charging the BJP leaders with criminal conspiracy
- Two cases have been clubbed – one against leaders for making inflammatory speeches that incited karsevaks & the other against the actual demolition
- Kalyan Singh can only be tried after he steps down as Governor of Rajasthan
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court announced that senior BJP leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Kalyan Singh will not be charged right now as he is the Governor of Rajasthan but will face charges when his tenure ends.
The case will be held in Lucknow from 19 May and will have to be finished in two-years to avoid further delay to the 25-year-old case. No judges sitting on the case will be transferred and neither will any adjournments be entertained. The case will go on a day-to-day basis.
Uma Bharti will not be resigning from her Union Minister post as she clarified and it was also reaffirmed by Arun Jaitley.
Asaduddin Owaisi, the president of AIMIM commented on the Babri Masjid demolition case saying that it was more serious an offence than the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Babri Masjid demolition is more serious than assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Trial of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination was completed in two years and Babri Masjid demolition which is more serious, is taking 25 years. Gandhi’s killers where convicted, hanged and Babri accused have been made Union Ministers, conferred the Padma Vibhushan.
He said that the justice system moves slowly.
Uma Bharti, who had displayed confidence after the Supreme Court verdict that said she will undergo a trial for conspiracy charges said she would leave for Ayodhya tonight, has cancelled her trip for now.
- “The proceedings in the Court of the Special Judicial Magistrate at Rae Bareilly will stand transferred to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge (Ayodhya Matters) at Lucknow.”
- “Mr Kalyan Singh, being the Governor of Rajasthan, is entitled to immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution as long as he remains Governor. The Court of Sessions will frame charges and move against him as soon as he ceases to be Governor.”
- “The Court of Sessions will, after transfer of the proceedings from Rae Bareilly to Lucknow and framing of additional charges, within four weeks, take up all the matters on a day-to-day basis... until conclusion of the trial… There shall be no transfer of the judge conducting the trial until the entire trial concludes.”
- “The CBI shall ensure that on every date fixed for evidence, some prosecution witnesses must remain present, so that for want of witnesses the matter not be adjourned.”
- “The Sessions Court will complete the trial and deliver the judgement within a period of 2 years from the date of receipt of this judgement.”
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and R Nariman, in its detailed 50-page verdict, made several observations.
In a judgement dated 12 February 2001, the Allahabad High Court had decreed that the transferring of Crime No 198 from Rae Bareli to Lucknow was “defective”. The government had reportedly issued the judgement in 1993 without agreement of the High Court, which is mandatory.
Slamming the CBI for not following the HC’s orders, the Supreme Court said:
It is clear from a reading of the judgement dated 12 February 2001 that the High Court expected that the defect noticed in the notification would be cured... Instead the course taken by the CBI has caused great confusion...
The Court added:
The filing of supplementary charge sheet against 8 accused persons which is going on separately in Rae Bareilly and the dropping altogether of charges against the 13 accused persons has completely derailed the joint trial envisaged...
Chiding the CBI and the state government for not “curing technical defects”, the apex court said:
The accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the State Government.
Criticising the Allahabad High Court for not following on its own order, the apex court added:
What is being done by us today is only to remedy what was expected by the Allahabad High Court to have been done shortly after its judgement dated 12 February 2001.
The top court also observed that the judge at Rae Bareilly was repeatedly transferred. It wrote:
One other disturbing feature is the fact that the Special Judge designated by the notification to carry on the trial at Rae Bareilly has been transferred a number of times, as a result of which the matter could not be taken up on the dates fixed.
MM Joshi arrives at LK Advani’s residence for a meeting.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting of top BJP leaders. The meeting is currently underway at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. The Babri Masjid verdict and the situation in Kashmir will be discussed at the meeting, CNN-News18 reported.
Arun Jaitley virtually ruled out Uma Bharti’s resignation from the Cabinet and described as "hypothetical" the possibility of the ruling having any bearing in selection of candidates for presidential and vice presidential polls.
This case is going on since 1993. Somehow it is going on and no new situation has arisen. So the situation which was prevailing will continue.
He was asked whether the ruling would mean resignation of Bharti, the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, from the Union Cabinet and Kalyan Singh as Rajasthan Governor.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav alleged that the Supreme Court order allowing trial of top BJP leaders in the Babri Masjid case was "well-thought-out politics" of the Prime Minister to remove LK Advani's name from the Presidential race.
The CBI is under the influence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It stood in the Supreme Court and sought permission to run trial against Advani and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Since Advani’s name was in circulation as a probable for the post of President, Modi through well-thought-out politics struck out his (Advani’s) name.
Uma Bharti has said that she will not resign from her post as Minister for Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation. She also ruled out charges of conspiracy in the case.
On Congress demanding her resignation she said:
The party which was behind the Emergency and 1984 riots has no right to demand my resignation.
Bharti said that she will travel to Ayodhya on Wednesday night.
Ayodhya ke liye, Ganga ke liye aur Tirange ke liye main koi bhi saza bhugatne ko taiyyar hoon (I’m ready to face any trial for Ayodhya, the Ganga and the National Flag)
"Koi saazish nahi thi, sab khullam-khulla tha. Mann mein aisa kuch nahi tha (there was no conspiracy, everything was out in the open),” she said.
Speaking to ANI, Asaduddin Owaisi said:
If government is committed to justice they should remove Kalyan Singh (Rajasthan Governor) and tell him to face trial.
Singh will enjoy protection under Article 361 only till he is the Rajasthan Governor.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on Wednesday said that the “party would study the verdict in detail, as has been announced by the Supreme Court”.
"Will examine the judgment and take appropriate steps. Haven't got full details right now. It’s not a setback for the party,” News18 quoted Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad as saying.
Senior Congress minister Kapil Sibal said that the decision to try to BJP leaders for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition is a “step forward in the cause of justice”.
Kapil SibalIt is a substantial step forward in the cause of justice. It means the majesty of law has been upheld and we are happy about that.
“It is little late in the day but nevertheless satisfying to note that the law will be taking its own course,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari was quoted as saying.
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar told NDTV that he is "ready to go to jail for a temple in Ayodhya”.
Katiyar, who faces trial in the case, accused the CBI of targeting his party.
"We will face the Supreme Court decision. There was no criminal conspiracy. The CBI is deliberately trying to target us,” he was quoted as saying.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha has said that the charges against senior leaders, like LK Advani, are “a message for BJP”.
Congress will demand resignation of Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, senior party leader Kapil Sibal tells Times of India.
The CBI had chargesheeted Advani under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of race, religion, race, language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) among others charges.
- 1992: Babri Masjid demolished on 6 December
- UP government registers two FIRs - 197 and 198
- 1993: UP government notifies transfer of FIR 197 to the CBI on 19 September
- 1993: Executive order to transfer FIR 198 issued on 8 October
- 2001: Conspiracy charge against Advani dropped on 4 May
- HC refuses to stay order, says fresh notification be issued for FIRs
- Mayawati government refuses to issue fresh notification
- 2010: HC upholds dropping of conspiracy charge
- 2011: CBI moves SC against HC order, seeks reply from Advani
- 2017: SC hints at reviving conspiracy charge against Advani
The Supreme Court has allowed CBI’s appeal challenging the withdrawal of conspiracy charges against LK Advani. CBI will now be allowed to try Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti with conspiracy charges.
Bharti may face demands for resignation from opposition as she is now an accused in the case.
Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal and Late Giriraj Kishore also face criminal conspiracy charges.
The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict on Wednesday on a plea seeking restoration of conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders, including 89-year-old LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti in the 16th century Babri Masjid demolition case.
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on 6 December 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 VVIPs in a Raebareli court.
The bench had also said since 25 years have already passed, in the interest of justice, it would consider ordering a time-bound trial on day-to-day basis, to be completed preferably within two years.
The CBI had clarified that it was not making any submission on the issue of the trial of the VVIPs accused but restricting itself to restoration of the charge of conspiracy against them.
The apex court had earlier decided to examine the appeal against the dropping of conspiracy charges against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and 10 others.
“Don’t Club Cases, People Named in FIRs Different”
The clubbing of two FIRs was opposed by the counsel for the accused on the grounds that different individuals were named as accused in both cases - the trials of which were at an advanced stage at two different places. They were of the view that a joint trial would lead to fresh proceedings.
The appeals were filed by Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since deceased) and the CBI, against the dropping of conspiracy charges against 21 accused. Eight of the 21 persons accused of conspiracy have died since the demolition in 1992.
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 Raebareli. The CBI has appealed against that decision in the top court.
The Babri Masjid Demolition
The 16th century Babri mosque at Ayodhya was demolished on 6 December 1992. Senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, were charged with making inflammatory speeches which motivated lakhs of right-wing volunteers or karsevaks to raze the mosque to the ground. The demolition sparked nationwide riots that claimed the lives of over 2,000 people.