Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed an appeal by the Central Bureau of Investigation which challenged the dropping of charges against them. The court said that there would be no fresh trial in the case.
The SC ordered that the trial would be conducted in both Lucknow and Rae Bareli. The trial would be conducted on a day-to-day basis, the court also ruled. The SC also said that there shall be no adjournment in the case.
If convicted, Advani and others could be sentenced to five years in jail. The SC pointed out that a 25-year pendency in this case was 'evasion of justice,' while stating that it would direct the Lucknow court to complete the trial in two years while ordering a day to day hearing.
On the last date of hearing the CBI told the SC that it wanted the trial against Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti to be conducted. The CBI also sought that the conspiracy charges that were dropped should be restored. The premier agency also said that it wanted the case to be transferred from Rae Bareili to Lucknow. The SC indicated that it was inclined to permit a joint trial and revival of the conspiracy charges.
The conspiracy charges are serious the CBI had said. It said that a secret meeting took place at the residence of Bajrang Dal founder-president Vinay Katiyar on the eve of the demolition. On that day, the final decision had been taken to raze the masjid. It was a conspiracy hatched in 1990 by Advani and others which ultimately culminated in the demolition, the CBI chargesheet also said.
Two sets of cases:
There are two sets of cases relating to the demolition on December 6, 1992. The first case relates to unnamed karsevaks and second relates to the VVIPs in a court in Rae Bareili. The SC on Thursday said that 25 years had passed and in the interest of justice the matter must be heard in one court, preferably in Lucknow. "We will use our extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution to transfer the case to Lucknow," the court said.
"A person should not suffer litigation for 25 years. In your own interest, the trial must come to an end and this is for your betterment," the SC told Advani's counsel. The court asked, "Many of the accused are dead and some will die now." As far as the Rae Bareily case is concerned, the court has examined 57 witnesses and have to examine another 105. In Lucknow, in the case against the karsevaks, 195 witnesses have been examined and 800 are still remaining, the SC pointed out.