YEARS ON, CASE BY CASE
Angry over the ‘politics’ around the Babri Masjid litigation, Hashim Ansari, 96, the oldest petitioner in a Babri case, wants out, and is waiting to speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Appeals regarding the site, filed in 1950 and expanded over the years as more parties claimed title to the property, rest before the Supreme Court, which is yet to hear the matter.
MANISH SAHU and UTKARSH ANAND give a status report.
How many cases are currently on in the trial court?
One each in Lucknow and Rae Bareli in connection with the demolition. Both cases were investigated by CBI. In Lucknow, the accused face charges of demolition; those in Rae Bareli are being tried for allegedly instigating the crowd through speeches. Conspiracy charges against L K Advani and some others were dropped in Lucknow on the grounds that the FIR related only to ‘kar sevaks’. However the leaders face all charges in Rae Bareli.
What cases are pending in the Supreme Court?
Two. The first pertains to dropping of conspiracy charges against Advani and others. The second is over a batch of appeals against the Allahabad High Court verdict in the title suit that directed division of 2.77 acres of land of the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site into three parts — among Hindus, Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara.
In which case is Ansari the petitioner?
In the title suit case. His plea was for removing the idols kept inside the mosque, and for restoration of adjoining land of the graveyard to Muslims.
How and when did he get involved?
In 1961, a suit was filed in the court of civil judge, Faizabad, on behalf of Muslims in the name of nine parties, with Sunni Board as No. 1 and Mohammad Hashim Ansari as No 9. In 1986, a writ petition was filed in the name of Ansari against an order passed by the district judge, Faizabad, that February, directing that the lock of the mosque be opened. The court ordered status quo.
Who are accused in the Lucknow and Rae Bareli cases?
After the demolition, two FIRs were lodged. FIR No. 197/92 was against kar sevaks who allegedly demolished the mosque; FIR No. 198/92 named Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Vinay Katiyar, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Sadhvi Rithambara and others for “making provocative speeches” instigating them. Bal Thackeray’s name was removed after his death.
Why have the two sets of charges been clubbed together?
CBI says it is not possible to separate accused in one FIR from those in the other, since the offences transposed from the first case to the second. So, all those named in the first FIR should be tried for conspiracy as well.
How did the case reach the Supreme Court?
In May 2010, Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench upheld a trial court verdict dropping conspiracy charges against Advani and others. CBI appealed after nine months, and Advani and others have sought dismissal of the petition on the ground of delay. The case is stuck at the stage of maintainability; CBI has been told to satisfy the court on the reasons for the delay.
When was the last hearing?
In December 2013, when the matter was ordered to be listed on a regular hearing day. In February 2014, the matter was directed to be brought in April. No effective hearing, however, took place. According to the SC website, the matter is now set to come up for hearing on March 24, 2015.
What is the second case before the SC?
It relates to a bunch of appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court verdict of September 2010 directing the three-way division of 2.77 acres. Hindu and Muslim organisations, including the Sunni Central Wakf Board, Nirmohi Akhara, All-India Hindu Mahasabha and Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman had appealed against the order.
When was the last hearing?
In May 2011, SC ordered status quo at the site, restoring its previous orders of 1994 and 2002 in respect of the 67 acres. In January 2013, Justice Aftab Alam reiterated the order to maintain status quo on the title of the land. But Justice Alam retired in April 2013, and the case has not witnessed any effective hearing even on the miscellaneous applications since then.
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