India’s apex court restores conspiracy charges against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti in Babri Masjid case; to face trial

MAMOSA Report — India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday restored criminal conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi in the Babri Mosque demolition case. They will face trial in the case along with Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, though the bench excluded Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh from its judgement.

On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid (mosque) was demolished by hundreds and thousands of karsevaks, who had gathered at the site from across the country. The incident had triggered communal riots in many places. The karsevaks had claimed that the land on which the mosque stood was the birthplace of Ram — a claim vehemently challenged by India’s huge Muslim community.

The three-member bench – headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar had earlier suggested resolving the long-standing Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, through negotiations outside court.

On Tuesday, the judges invoked conspiracy charges against Advani et al after India’s Central Bureau of Investigation appeal against Allahabad High Court’s decision to acquit the politicians. India’s apex investigating agency wanted them put on trial in the case, accusing them of being part of a larger conspiracy. On March 6, the court asked the CBI to file a supplementary chargesheet against the accused, including the conspiracy charges.

Joint trial

There are two cases in connection with the Babri mosque demolition – one in Lucknow and the other in Raebareli. The Raebareli court had been hearing the case against leaders of the BJP and VHP, while the other case against karsevaks has been pending in the Lucknow trial court.

Advani, Joshi and Bharti will now face a joint trial with the karsevaks accused of demolishing the masjid in 1992 as the Supreme Court has clubbed the two. The matter will be transferred from the Raebareli court to the Lucknow court within four weeks and will then be dealt with in daily hearings. The judges have called for the trial to be completed in two years.
The verdict:

In its ruling, the court has put down a number of directions, including that there will be no adjournments under normal circumstances, and that the judges hearing the case will not be transferred.

It also observed that no case will be registered against Singh as he has immunity as the governor of Rajasthan. According to Article 361 of the Indian Constitution, a governor is not answerable to any court with regard to exercising his duties, and no criminal proceedings can be instituted or continued against them while in office.

Based on original reporting by Scroll. Read original.

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