New Delhi (PTI): BJP leaders L K Advani, 89, M M Joshi, 83, and Uma Bharti, 57, will face trial in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case as the Supreme Court today allowed the CBI plea and restored criminal conspiracy charges against them.
The court also clubbed the trial in the matter pending against the leaders and ‘karsevaks’ and said the proceedings should be completed in two years.
“We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgement with certain directions,” a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said.
The apex court, however, noted that Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh enjoys Constitutional immunity and can be tried only after he ceases to hold the office. Kalyan Singh was the chief minister of UP in 1992.
The court also gave significant directions including that separate trials being conducted in trial courts at Raebareli and Lucknow will be clubbed and conducted in the capital of Uttar Pradesh only.
It also said that the trial judge of Lucknow “shall not be transferred” till conclusion and delivery of judgement in the sensational case.
The court further said that no party shall be granted adjournment without the sessions judge being satisfied of the reasons for it and conduct day-to-day trial which should be concluded within two years.
It also directed probe agency CBI to ensure that prosecution witnesses appear on each and every date for recording of evidence in the case and the trial court should start the proceedings within four weeks from today.
It, however, clarified that there would be no de novo (fresh) trial in the matter.
The bench also directed that its order should be followed in letter and spirit and granted liberty to the parties to approach it if its directions are not followed.
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 leaders in a Raebareli court.
THE charges for which Advani, Joshi, Bharti and other VVIPs will be tried in the politically sensitive Babri Masjid demolition case, entails a punishment ranging from two to five years imprisonment.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored the offence of criminal conspiracy which was originally invoked against them along with other charges in the case.
They will be tried under Indian Penal Code offences for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc, imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration and statements conducing to public mischief of the IPC for which the maximum punishment is five years.
Other charges of injuring or defiling place of worship with the intent to insult the religion of any class entails maximum sentence of two years, while for the offence of deliberate and malicious acts intending to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs, carriesa maximum penalty of a three-year jail term.
Besides Advani, Joshi and Bharti, others who will face trial are Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma and Satish Chandra Nagar.
Those who have since died include Bal Thackeray, Giriraj Kishore, Ashok Singhal and Paramhans Ram Chandra Das.
In the other case, charges framed against unknown karsevaks involve dacoity, which entails minimum 10 years jail or life imprisonment.
Other charges include robbery which entails a punishment of seven years, causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others and trespassing which carry two year and one year imprisonment.
The remaining charges are the same as that of the VIPs.