The Supreme Court of India has expressed its concern over the pace of the proceedings of Babri Masjid demolition case and is going to take a decision on those accused on 22 March. The apex court has called for a joint trial and is likely to club the Raebareli and Lucknow cases. The cases pending in the two cities will be heard in Lucknow.
The indication came from a bench of justices PC Ghosh and RS Nariman hearing a petition by the CBI challenging the Allahabad High Court dropping conspiracy charges against the leaders, including senior BJP’s LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh. They also include several VHP leaders.
The Supreme Court’s observations came ahead of the last phase of assembly polls in the state.
Previously, a court in Rae Bareli had released Advani and 12 others including Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh of conspiracy charges for razing the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992.
Kalyan Singh, who is now the governor of Rajasthan, was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh when this ancient mosque was razed down by kar sevaks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad who believe it to be the birth place of Lord Ram.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High court by its February 12, 2001 order had held that the trial court committed no illegality in taking “cognizance of joint consolidated charge sheet and all the offences were committed in the course of the same transaction to accomplish the conspiracy”. The high court by its said order had noted that the “evidence for all the offences was almost the same”.
The matter is pending before the Supreme Court since March 3, 2011. The main case against the activists – called Karsevaks – is pending in the Lucknow trial court.
The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under sections 153A IPC (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace).
But it subsequently invoked charges under Section 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy) which was quashed by the Special Court whose decision was upheld by the High Court.
The May 2010 order of the High Court had said there was no merit in the CBI’s revision petition challenging the May 4, 2001 order of the special court which directed dropping of criminal conspiracy charges against them.