Hindu mobs had demolished the 16th century mosque in UP’s Ayodhya, claiming it was built on the birthplace of god-king Rama.
New Delhi: Senior BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi and Uma Bharti, may face a criminal trial in the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case as the Supreme Court indicated Monday that it might revive conspiracy charges against them and 10 others.
The court gave this indication while hearing an appeal filed by the CBI in 2011, during the UPA’s regime, against the dropping of conspiracy charges by lower courts on the ground that only the demolition case — and not the conspiracy one — had been transferred to the premier investigation agency.
Hindu mobs had demolished the 16th century mosque in UP’s Ayodhya, claiming it was built on the birthplace of god-king Rama, triggering some of India’s worst riots since Partition, killing about 2,000 people.
The CBI under the NDA’s dispensation Monday supported the appeal and additional solicitor general Neeraj Kishan Kaul pressed for a joint trial in one court with conspiracy charges added. VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Vinay Katiyar Sadhvi Rithambara are some of the other accused.
At the outset, a bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Nariman told the CBI counsel, “We will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds. We will allow you (CBI) to file a supplementary chargesheet against 13 persons by including the conspiracy charges. We will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial in a Lucknow court.” Mr Kaul said “This is what we want.”
However, even as the court was about to pass its order, Mr Advani’s counsel K.K. Venugopal said that if conspiracy charges were added, all 186 witnesses who had deposed before a Rae Barely court would have to be examined again. He also drew the attention of the court to a delay of 1,600 days in filing the appeal by the CBI and an intervener, Haji Mahmood Ahmed.
But the court said it would condone the delay, and posted the matter for a final hearing on March 22.
There are two sets of cases — one against Mr Advani and 12 others who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya when the mosque was demolished, while the other case was against unknown kar sevaks who were in and around the disputed structure.
The sessions judge in 2001 dropped the conspiracy charges against Mr. Advani and others on the ground that the case which was transferred to the CBI related only to karsevaks. The high court in 2010 upheld the special court’s order.
The high court had said it was open to the state government issuing a fresh notification for transfer of both FIRs to the CBI, but the then state government failed to do so. The CBI later filed an appeal in the top court.