Babri demolition case: 25 yrs later, LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti face trial

Criminal conspiracy charges restored, trial moved from Rae Bareli to Lucknow

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:April 20, 2017 5:12 am
babri masjid, babri demolition case, lk advani babri masjid, uma bharti babri masjid, babri masjid demolition, advani, advani babri masjid, mm joshi, uma bharti, ayodhya advani, india news, indian express news, latest news Uma Bharti on Wednesday (Source: Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Describing the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya as “crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India”, the Supreme Court Wednesday put senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti on a joint trial with ‘kar sevaks’ in the 1992 case under various charges, including criminal conspiracy to pull down the disputed structure.

The bench of Justices P C Ghose and Rohinton F Nariman said the Supreme Court was convinced it must use its power under Article 142 to do complete justice in the matter and club the trial of Advani and others with scores of kar sevaks, who are being tried at a special court in Lucknow, so that a judgment is delivered within two years.

“In the present case, crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago. The accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the state government,” the bench said.

While reviving the criminal conspiracy charges against the senior leaders of the BJP and shifting their trial from Rae Bareli, the court also ordered restoration of charges against Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and eight others in connection with the case but exempted Kalyan Singh from prosecution on account of the constitutional immunity he enjoys as Governor.

“Kalyan Singh, being the Governor of Rajasthan, is entitled to immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution as long as he remains Governor of Rajasthan. The Court of Sessions will frame charges and move against him as soon as he ceases to be Governor,” the bench said as it allowed a CBI appeal against the dropping of conspiracy charges against the veteran BJP leaders.

Additional Sessions Judge (Ayodhya Matters) has been directed to frame additional charges of criminal conspiracy against Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara and Vishnu Hari Dalmia within four weeks. Accepting submissions by senior lawyer Kapil Sibal and advocate M R Shamshad, who represented Haji Mehboob, one of the original petitioners in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri title suit case, the court also directed the sessions judge to conduct their trial on a day-to-day basis from the current stage and finish it in two years while allowing accused to recall crucial witnesses wherever required.

“There shall be no de novo (fresh) trial. There shall be no transfer of the judge conducting the trial until the entire trial concludes. The case shall not be adjourned on any ground except when the Sessions Court finds it impossible to carry on the trial for that particular date. In such an event, on grant of adjournment to the next day or a closely proximate date, reasons for the same shall be recorded in writing,” the bench held. Besides, the top court gave liberty to all the parties, including the prosecution, complainants and witnesses, to approach it directly if its “directions not being carried out, both in letter and in spirit”.

Addition of conspiracy charges do not enhance the maximum punishment of five years in jail, as prescribed under the alleged offences that mainly related to promotion of enmity between different groups on the ground of religion. But shifting of trial to a sessions judge take away one right of appeal from the accused since the leaders were being tried by a magisterial court in Rae Bareli and, therefore, they could move the sessions court against the magistrate’s order at first instance. Their appeal would now lie before the High Court.

There are two main FIRs registered in connection with the demolition — one each in Lucknow and Rae Bareli. In Lucknow, the accused, chiefly the kar sevaks, face charges of demolition whereas those in Rae Bareli, including Advani and others, were being tried for allegedly instigating the crowd through speeches.

Seeking a joint trial, the CBI had in October 1993 filed a consolidated chargesheet against both set of accused at Lucknow but the cases could not be clubbed for want of sanction from the High Court before setting up a special court to try both FIRs as one case. In 2001, the Allahabad High Court affirmed the decision that the government’s notification was invalid due to lack of approval from the High Court.

Since no new notification was issued by the state government after this judgment, the Lucknow court dropped proceedings against 21 persons, which included Advani and Kalyan Singh. While Advani and seven others continued to face trial at Rae Bareli where there was a separate FIR against them for inciting the mob from a dais near the site of the incident on December 6, 1992, 13 others, including Kalyan Singh, were let off completely since no charges were pressed separately against them at Rae Bareli after their exoneration in Lucknow.

The CBI appealed against the HC order, and sought trial of all 21 accused under criminal conspiracy charges, apart from other offences. Allowing the plea for a joint trial, the bench said that the evidence for all these offences is almost the same and these offences, therefore, cannot be separated from each other.

It maintained that the CBI’s failure to challenge the 2001 HC order on invalidation of the notification on the joint trial “has completely derailed the joint trial envisaged and has resulted in a fractured prosecution going on in two places simultaneously based on a joint chargesheet filed by the CBI itself”. The court turned down arguments by senior advocate K K Venugopal, who appeared for Advani and Joshi, that the court could not exercise its authority under Article 142 to take away rights of a litigant when there are substantial provisions on the particular subject.

“Article 142(1) of the Constitution of India had no counterpart in the Government of India Act, 1935 and to the best of our knowledge, does not have any counterpart in any other Constitution the world over. The Latin maxim fiat justitia ruat cælum is what first comes to mind on a reading of Article 142 — Let justice be done though the heavens fall,” the bench said.

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  1. T
    Apr 20, 2017 at 10:09 pm
    Now the SC must hear regular hearings to fast-track this case. Over 25 years have p ed. Justice must be done. And a resounding judgement to make sure no other such cases come up. India's rule of law began in 1949. Crimes done before that cannot be "avenged" now.
    1. P
      Pradeep Chaturvedi
      Apr 20, 2017 at 4:31 pm
      FORGIVE-FORGET let bygones be bygones. It is a never -ending soap opera.It will go on till eternity. Top leaders are around 90 years. No future. Babri a dilapidated structure any how would have fallen if these foools have not climbed on the 1526 Era four walls. Ridiculous and laughable that India is wasting precious resources -time money energy-on outdated issues. Since 971 A.D. Hindoos had been slaves of Islamists -save for British era- we are back to boot licking of 7th Century lunatics Leftists it will go on for ever. Apex Court should focus on pending cases 3 crore in all over nation. MUSLIMS have destro our IDEN Y self-respect religion girls . Declare HINDOO RASHTRA soon. If not Leftists others follow Muslims lunatics
      1. T
        Apr 20, 2017 at 10:11 pm
        You bloody Anti-National! Traitor! Get out of my country.
      2. A
        Anuradha Kalhan
        Apr 20, 2017 at 3:11 pm
        At last , at last , at long last.... But what havoc it spelled for India lasting over 25 years, how many cycles of violence and hate? But how can we undo the damage , the corruption of India's secular fabric and degradation of minds and hearts of people with poison of sick rhetoric ? Confusion caused in the head by unbalanced representations of Indian history and culture? The process that RSS began in the 1990s has not ended. Muzaffarnagar Baki hai....
        1. S
          Apr 20, 2017 at 11:23 am
          SC has no guts to prosecute and punish the 1984 Delhi riots accused, but wants to try the 1992 Babri masjid demolition case. Why not also try the demolition of the 1525 Ram Mandir demolition by Babur?
          1. A
            Apr 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm
            In 1525 India Not born, So no point in arguing .
            1. T
              Apr 20, 2017 at 10:12 pm
              Agree. India's Rule of Law began 1949. We should stick to maintaining the criminals from then on.
            2. T
              Apr 20, 2017 at 10:13 pm
              Prosecute who? Who will stand trail for Babur? We won't find anyone "bhakt" enough to fight case as "Ram Lalla" And why go back to only 1525? Why not prosecute all Men who forced their women to perform Sati?
            3. L
              Apr 20, 2017 at 10:09 am
              It is vindictive approach by SC. Since most of SC judges are also left leaning judges. The dead issue is again brought forward by SC. The same stand they have not taken against Sikh carnage of 1984 when more than 10000 Sikhs had been murdered by congress gundas and even today they are moving freely in Delhi . It appears SC had prior information that LKA is likely to be nominated by NDA for President post. So congress and all other pseudo secularist might have tipped SC to scuttle LKAs nomination for the post of president.
              1. K
                Apr 20, 2017 at 11:52 am
                Everything scheming and vindictive is possible as long as India and its tax payers carry the burden called congress along with its dirty tricks department and blabber oozing mouthpieces.
              2. M
                Apr 20, 2017 at 9:05 am
                ஒரு பாப்ரி மசூதி இடித்துவிட்டார்கள் என்று இந்துக்கள் மீது கட்சி கட்டிக்கொண்டு முஸ்லிம்களுக்கு ஓட்டுக்காக காவடி தூக்கும் இந்து எதிர் கட்ட்சிகாரர்களை கேட்கின்றேன் இந்தியாவில் முஸ்லிம் மன்னர்கள் ஆயிரகணக்கான ஹிந்து கோவில்களை இடித்து மசூதிகளை கட்டினார்களே இதை யார் கேட்பது . இதற்க்கு யார் பொறுப்பு . இங்குள்ள முஸ்லிம்கள் பதில் சொல்லவேண்டு. இதை ஏன் சொல்லுகின்றேன் என்றால் ஜப்பான் மீது குண்டு வீசி தாக்கியது அதனால் ஜப்பான் இன்றுவரை அமெரிக்காவோடு எந்த ஒட்டு உறவும் வைத்துக்கொள்ளவில்லை. ஆனால் நாம் என்ன செய்து கொண்டிருக்கிறோம் இந்து கோவில்களை இடித்த மற்றும் இந்துக்களை மதம் மாற்றிய கும்பலுக்கு ராஜ மரியாதை கொடுதுகொண்டிருக்கின்றோம். 80 கோடி இந்துக்கள் வாழும் இந்தியாவில் ராமாபிரானுக்கு ஒரு கோவில் கட்ட முடியாமல் கேவலமாக வாழந்து கொண்டிருக்கிறோம் இதைவிட நாம் எல்லோரும் தூக்கு போட்டு கொண்டு சாகலாம்
                1. R
                  Apr 20, 2017 at 9:02 am
                  What a damaging indictment! Kudos! SC. You have shown the culprits their place. Hope they can't influence the lower judiciary. Also, they should live to bear the repercussions of their actions. Kalyan Singh though gets rewarded with a gift of lifelong governorship if the nation is unfortunate to have the present dispensation at the centre.
                  1. K
                    Apr 20, 2017 at 11:42 am
                    What and how much do you know about the case that makes you blabber?
                  2. B
                    Apr 20, 2017 at 8:50 am
                    Why the super intellectual advocates are advocating for secularism & letting the disturbance of country go further . Why they are playing with the sentiment of large section of people in a country. Why they are not understanding that all are not as intelligent as they are. Why they are expecting other to come to their level of intelligence. Why they are not understanding the limitation of the average intellectuals in the country. Because they are not highly intelligent so they cease to live peacefully in their way as they understand their world. When country divided basing on the religion theory, immediately a sense developed in the mind of a common man that this is hindu country & that is muslim country. We got the freedom from british but not freedom from our so called intellectuals. They failed to understand the feelings of common man, but surprisingly declared themselves intellectual, instructing the common men to live a life not they intended to.Secular a big confusion.
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