Advani, Uma Bharti, MM Joshi to face criminal conspiracy charges in Babri Masjid demolition case, says Supreme Court

19 April 2017, 11:46 AM
Supreme Court of India (File photo)
Supreme Court of India (File photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed CBI's appeal challenging withdrawal of conspiracy charges against Senior BJP leaders including L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharti and others.

Among others who will face criminal conspiracy charges include Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal and Late Giriraj Kishore.

The apex court has excluded Kalyan Singh in the matter. The Supreme Court said that Kalyan Singh enjoys Constitutional immunity as Rajasthan Governor and can be tried only after he ceases to hold office.

The SC said its order should be followed in letter and spirit and grants liberty to parties to approach apex court if its directions are not followed.

Trial has to be completed in two years. Now, matter will be heard in Lucknow Court and day to day hearing would continue. Union Minister Uma Bharti will have to face criminal conspiracy charges.

The SC directed CBI to ensure that some prosecution witnesses appear in trial court for recording of testimony. The apex court ordered that trial judge hearing the Babri case will not be transferred till the judgement is delivered.

The apex court also said that the case shall be transferred within four weeks from Rai Bareilly to Lucknow and directed Lucknow trial court to commence proceedings in 4 weeks and made it clear that there will be no de novo trial.

The top court ordered joint trial of two separate cases against LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti and unknown 'karsevaks' in Lucknow. 

A bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman has pronounced the judgment.

Also read: SC reserves order on plea for restoration of conspiracy charges against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti in Babri case

There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure 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 VVIPs in a Rae Bareli court.

On April 6, the bench had indicated that they may order holding of joint trial of the two sets of cases by transferring the trial from Rae Bareli to the Lucknow court.

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.

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for Advani and Joshi, had vociferously opposed the proposal for holding joint trial and transferring their case from Rae Bareli to Lucknow.

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.

Also read: Babri demolition case: Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, and 11 other leaders should be tried in Lucknow court, CBI tells SC

The apex court had earlier decided to examine the appeal against dropping of conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and 10 others.

The clubbing of two FIRs was opposed by the counsel for the accused on the ground that there were different sets of persons named as accused in the two cases, the trial of which were at an advanced stage at two different places. They were of the view that joint trial would lead to the beginning of de novo (afresh) proceedings.

The conspiracy charge against 13 accused including Advani, Joshi and Bharti was dropped in the case, the trial of which is being held at a special court in Rae Bareli.

The second set of case was against unknown 'karsevaks' who were in and around the disputed structure and pulled it down. The trial against them is being held in a Lucknow court.

The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since dead) and the CBI against dropping of conspiracy charges against 21 accused including the top BJP leaders. Eight of them have died.

First Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:45 AM
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