The Supreme Court on Monday indicated that it could order a joint trial of the two cases in the Babri demolition case currently underway – one in Lucknow and the other in Rae Bareli – and also revive the criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, among others. A lower court in Rae Bareli had earlier dropped the charges of criminal conspiracy against Advani and others leaders of the party.
“We will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds. We will allow you (CBI) to file a supplementary chargesheet against 13 persons by including the conspiracy charges. We will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial,” the court told CBI.
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The Supreme Court is likely to take a final decision on whether the charges against Advani and others will be revived on March 22, 2017. The decision of the Allahabad High Court to acquit Advani, Muri Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and others has been challenged by the CBI. Babri Masjid, a 16th century mosque, was demolished by a mob on December 6, 1992. Advani and Joshi were present at the site when the mosque was pulled down.
These observations were made orally during a brief hearing by the bench, which posted the matter for further hearing on March 22.
However, the clubbing of two FIRs was opposed by the counsel for the accused on the ground that there were different sets of persons named as accused in the two cases, the trial of which were at an advanced stage at two different places. They were of the view that joint trial would lead to the beginning of proceedings de novo (afresh).
The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since dead) and the CBI is against dropping of conspiracy charges against BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and 19 others for demolition of the disputed medieval structure on December 6, 1992.
During the hearing, the bench also said that supplementary charge sheet was filed against eight persons but not against the 13 who were discharged.
Besides BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh (presently Governor of Rajasthan), Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died).
(With inputs from PTI)