The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that senior BJP leaders including LK Advani, Uma Bharti and MM Joshi will face criminal conspiracy charges in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The bench comprised Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman.
The apex court has directed the sessions judge in Lucknow to conduct the trial in the Babri demolition case on a daily basis, and that the judge will not be transferred. It also ruled out a fresh trial in the case. The Supreme Court has also ordered the CBI to ensure that witnesses are produced in court everyday so that there is no delay in the Babri demolition case trial. The trial will have to be completed in two years.
However, the Supreme Court has clarified that Kalyan Singh, being Governor of Rajasthan, will not be tried due to constitutional immunity unless he ceases to be in that post. In effect, his trial will begin after his term as Governor ends. Singh was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the demolition took place. Others who will face criminal conspiracy charges are Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal. The late Giriraj Kishore is also among the names in the original chargesheet.
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’ or volunteers, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the VVIPs in a Rae Bareli court. With today’s SC order, both these cases are merged and will be heard in Lucknow.
The order comes after the CBI had petitioned the SC saying 14 people, including BJP leaders, who had been acquitted of the charges under criminal conspiracy, should be tried in the Lucknow Court. On April 6, the last hearing, the Supreme Court had reserved its order for today.
Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Salman Soz said Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh should resign and uphold the sanctity of their posts.
BJP, however, has said it will first study the court order and only then issue a statement. “We can’t say anything, will first study the court order,” party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told News 18. Party MP Vinay Katiyar, however, says the charges against BJP leaders are baseless. “Why should leaders like Uma Bharti resign from Union Minister position, these all are baseless charges,” News 18 quoted him as saying. Supreme Court has given the verdict. Party would study the verdict in detail, party spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
NDA ally Shiv Sena, however, has called for the chargesheet to be recalled.
“The government should withdraw the chargesheet. How can (they) on one hand you do this and then talk of building Ram Mandir?” party leader Sanjay Raut told news agency ANI.