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Friday, November 27, 2020

Babri Masjid demolition case: After long pause, wheels of justice start moving again

A generation has passed since the demolition. Advani and Joshi are at the twilight of their political careers. It’s high time the case saw a closure.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Updated: April 19, 2017 4:19:42 pm
BJP leaders L K Advani ,M M Joshi having a meeting soon after Kar Sewaks started demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. (Express Archive photo by R K Sharma).

The Supreme Court of India has ordered a speedy trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti among others will now face charges of criminal conspiracy in the case. The move suggests the apex court wants speedy decision to take place in the case.

The court order may dent the images and the legacy of Advani and Joshi. Bharti, who is also a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government could also stand to see her political career severely damaged in case the court rules against her.

An apex court bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman delivered the directive for the sessions judge in Lucknow to conduct the trial on a daily basis. The bench also said that the judge will not be transferred till the matter is decided and any possibility of a fresh trial was ruled out. The witnesses will also be produced in the court on a daily basis to ensure timely progress of the trial. The apex court has also directed the trial to be completed in two years. Today’s order merges two separate cases being heard in Lucknow and Rae Bareli relating to Babri demolition and the matter will be heard in Lucknow from now onwards.

BJP patriarch LK Advani, 89, and MM Joshi, 83, now serve as part of BJP’s present five-member margdarshak mandal. Others part of the mandal are former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Joshi was also the president of the BJP between 1991 and 1993, when the mosque was torn down.

BJP leader Uma Bharti celebrates the demolition of Babri Masjid with party colleague MM Joshi at Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The Supreme Court today ruled that certain BJP leaders will face criminal conspiracy charges. Archives/Express Photo by Kedar Jain.

The case has dragged on for a long time. Over 24 years have passed since the demolition and still the charges are being levelled. For that matter, it seems the Supreme Court has decided to ensure that the painfully slow proceedings give results soon.

One of the reasons for the long passage of time was also due to the lengthy investigation by the Justice Liberhan Commission. The Commission was formed by the PV Narsimha Rao government to investigate the matter in 1992 and submitted its report to Allahabad High Court in 2009. A year later a landmark verdict was passed directing a three-way division of the land.

A generation has passed since the demolition. Advani and Joshi are at the twilight of their political careers. It’s high time the case saw a closure.

The 16th century mosque in Ayodhya was demolished by thousand of kar sewaks on December 6, 1992 who claimed the the mosque was built on Hindu deity Lord Rama’s birthplace. They contended that the mosque had been built on Hindu ‘holy land’. Massive religious riots broke out afterwards.

Ram Mandir, Ayodhya, Ram Temple, Ayodhya issue, Subramanian Swamy, Ram Mandir, babri masjid demolition, babri masjid, hindu-muslim, Ram mandir issue, ram temple issue, supreme court, JS Khehar, India news, indian express Kar Sewaks mount the dome of Babri Masjid before demolishing it. (Express Archive)

Allahabad High Court had, in fact, ordered Archeological Survey of India to dig up the site and ascertain whether there was actually any temple on the site before the mosque was built. In its report, ASI had submitted that there was signs of features of a 10th century Hindu temple on the ground. Whether it is the actual birthplace has never been proven but it is widely accepted by almost all Hindus. ASI, however, was clear that there was a temple on the spot before the mosque.

Kalyan Singh, Governor of Rajasthan, enjoys constitutional immunity due to his position. His trial will only commence once he steps down from his post or his tenure runs out. Kalyan Singh’s being party to the matter was important since he was Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister when Babri Masjid was torn down by Kar Sewaks. Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan and Champat Rai Bansal will also face charges of criminal conspiracy and the late Giriraj Kishore also figures in the original chargesheet.

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