The Supreme Court called on Thursday the stalling in the Babri Masjid demolition case an “evasion of justice” and withholds its verdict on the CBI’s plea to restore criminal conspiracy costs against BJP leaders such as Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani, and Uma Bharti. The SC had earlier adjourned hearing on CBI plea in reviving the conspiracy charges against Advani and others in the Babri Case.
A bench of justices RF Nariman and PC Ghose said it would consider in the interest of justice orders a time-bound day-to-day trial, to be completed preferably within two years, since the case has not progressed in the past 25 years. In Ayodhya the Babri mosque was destroyed on December 6, 1992, by “kar sevaks” or supporters of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), sparking communal riots across the country that left more than 3,000 people dead.
Many Hindus trust that god Ram was born at the spot where Babur, the first Mughal emperor, had constructed the mosque. The disputed site, comprising 2.7 acres, remains India’s most potent religious flashpoint. There were two sets of cases relating the demolition of the structure. The first involved unnamed “kar sevaks” and a Lucknow special court is trying the case.
The second set interrelated to several BJP leaders, including Advani, Joshi, Bharti and then Kalyan Singh Uttar Pradesh chief minister, being heard in a Rae Bareli court. The Lucknow court had shredded charges of criminal intrigue against the senior BJP leaders on technical grounds 16 years ago.
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The Supreme Court suggested that it might revive the case. “One party cannot take advantage of a technical defect. We require to do justice in cases like these,” the bench said. The suspect can easily contest the conspiracy charges made by the CBI in the court, but no one can be allowed to go scot-free due to technical glitches.”
Also, the top court was sad with the slow progress of the trial in Rae Bareli, where the BJP and other right-wing Hindu leaders are being prosecuted for delivering speeches that incited a mob to demolish the mosque. Only 57 witnesses have deposed so far there. In Lucknow where 47 “kar sevaks” are facing trial, 185 witnesses have been examined, and 800 more are left. The top court bench indicated it might shift the trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow. The CBI said it was not averse to clubbing the two trials.
The central investigating agency’s case against 13 leaders, including Advani, fell flat in May 2001 when the Lucknow court dropped the criminal charges. It said there were two FIRs and the one pending before it under the criminal conspiracy section did not name them.
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The CBI hurried to the Allahabad high court, which in May 2010, upheld the lower court’s order. The agency approached the top court after that, but almost a year after the high court verdict. “The contested order of the Allahabad high court upholding the lower court decision shedding the charge of conspiracy ought to be set aside,” adds solicitor general NK Kaul told the bench on Thursday on behalf of the CBI.
Senior counsel KK Venugopal, representing Advani and the other leaders, were against the CBI’s appeal. He said the leaders are old now, and reopening the case will entail new cross-examination of witnesses. But the bench disagreed with him. “In the attention of doing justice, the Supreme Court can work out its control under Article 142 to overwhelmed a couple of procedures that had suffered due to technical glitches.”