After nearly 28 years, a special court in Lucknow will pronounce its judgment in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case on Wednesday, September 30. The demolition had triggered riots in many parts of the country that left nearly 2,000 dead. The court has directed all the accused to remain present in the court.
Among the 32 accused are senior BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Sakshi Maharaj, Brij Bhushan Saran Singh and Uma Bharti. With both Bharti and Kalyan Singh admitted in separate hospitals with Covid-19, it is unlikely they will be present in the court at the time of pronouncement of order.
On September 1, after the statements of all the 32 accused were recorded under section 313 of the CrPC, the defence had submitted written arguments in the court. Under the said CRPC section, a judge questions the accused on the basis of the evidence put before the court, and the accused is given an opportunity to explain the allegations levelled against him.
Last month, the Supreme Court extended till September 30 the deadline for the special CBI court in Lucknow to deliver the verdict in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The earlier deadline had expired on August 31.
What are the cases?
The Ayodhya mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992 by ‘kar sevaks’ who claimed that it was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple. Following this, two cases were filed in Ayodhya: one related to the conspiracy of the demolition, and another about instigation of the crowd. The remaining cases were merged with the conspiracy FIR. While the trial in the conspiracy case was being held in a Lucknow court, the hearing of the case involving alleged instigation of the ‘kar sevaks’ was being held at a Rae Bareli court.
The CBI filed its chargesheet in 1993 against 49 accused, of whom 17 died during the course of the trial. The charges in the Rae Bareli case were framed in 2005 while in the Lucknow case, in 2010.
On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ordered the clubbing of the two cases and asked for a day-to-day trial to be conducted. The court, while ordering the restoration of charges against 13 accused that the High Court had earlier dropped, also ordered adding criminal conspiracy charges against the accused, including Advani, then facing trial in Rae Bareli.
What has the Supreme Court said on Babri incident?
In April 2017, the the Supreme Court had terming the demolition of Babri Masjid a crime that shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution. It had also called the Allahabad High Court’s February 2001 verdict dropping the charges against the accused “erroneous”.
In November last year, while deciding the Ayodhya title suit case in a unanimous 5-0 verdict, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had referred to the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a “calculated act” in breach of the court order to maintain status quo and “an egregious violation of the rule of law”.
“On 6 December 1992, the structure of the mosque was brought down and the mosque was destroyed. The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law,” the Supreme Court said.
“During the pendency of the suits, the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship. The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago,” it added.
(With inputs from PTI)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines