A special CBI court in Lucknow ordered framing of charges Tuesday against BJP veterans L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Union Minister Uma Bharti and nine others who will now stand trial for criminal conspiracy in the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Charges were framed against Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Sadhvi Rithambara who appeared before the court. Their applications for discharge from the offence were rejected and they were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each. Special judge S K Yadav rejected the CBI opposition to their bail applications. The court will resume hearing Wednesday.
The six are already facing charges under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) read with sections 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object).
Click here to read what Advani, Uma Bharti, Joshi, Kalyan Singh are charged with
Last month, the Supreme Court revived the criminal conspiracy charge (IPC 120 B) against the three BJP leaders and shifted their trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow. It also ordered restoration of charges against Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh and eight others but exempted Kalyan Singh from prosecution on account of the constitutional immunity he enjoys as Governor.
Ram Kumar Yadav, special CBI counsel, said: “The additional charge under IPC 120 B was to be framed against Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara and V H Dalmia on the direction of the Supreme Court. On the other IPC sections, they are already on bail and the trial against them is on.” Defence counsel K K Mishra said: “The court also framed charges against Satish Pradhan, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Champat Rai and Mahant Dharam Das after rejecting their discharge applications.”
Mishra said charges were framed against these six under IPC sections 120B, 153A, 153B, 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 505, 147 and 149.
“These six are among 13 who were dropped from the case following the High Court order earlier. The Supreme Court, in its order dated April 19 this year, ordered restoration of charges against all of them. The court exempted Kalyan Singh from prosecution on account of the constitutional immunity he enjoys as Governor. Six others have died,” Mishra said.
PTI adds: Before appearing in court, Uma Bharti said: “I was present in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, which is no secret. Crores of BJP workers, lakhs of officials and thousands of political leaders participated. It was an open movement like the movement against the Emergency. I don’t see any conspiracy,” she said.
Vinay Katiyar said, “There was no conspiracy as the structure was razed openly by a big crowd. It is not right and there is no scope for conspiracy charge against us. It was not a conspiracy as whatever had happened had happened openly and lakhs of people were there. There could not be any conspiracy involving such a huge crowd,” he said. Vedanti said: “I was one of those who had pulled the dome down.”