New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on Wednesday on the appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against dropping conspiracy charges against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and 18 others, in the Babri Masjid demolition case. A bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman is scheduled to pronounce the judgment. The SC will also decide whether the trial of the accused VVIPs can be transferred from a court in Rae Bareli to Lucknow.
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the VVIPs in a Rae Bareli court.
On April 6, the SC had reserved its order on the petition that sought the restoring of charges against the BJP leaders. The CBI had told the SC that 14 people, including the BJP leaders, who had been acquitted of the charges under criminal conspiracy, should be tried in the Lucknow Court.
The bench had also said since 25 years have already passed, in the interest of justice, it would consider ordering time-bound trial on day-to-day basis, to be completed preferably within two years.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for Advani and Joshi, had opposed the proposal for holding joint trial and transferring their case from Rae Bareli to Lucknow. The CBI had clarified that it was not making any submission on the issue of the trial of the VVIPs accused, but restricting itself to restoration of the charge of conspiracy against them.
The SC had earlier decided to examine the appeal against the dropping of conspiracy charges against Advani, Joshi, Bharti and 10 others.
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 thought that a joint trial would mean the beginning of fresh proceedings.
The conspiracy charge against 13 accused including Advani, Joshi and Bharti was dropped in the case, the trial of which is being held at a special court in Rae Bareli. The second set of case was against unknown ‘karsevaks’ who were in and around the disputed structure and pulled it down. The trial against them is being held in a Lucknow court.
The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since dead) and the CBI, against the dropping of conspiracy charges, against 21 accused including the top BJP leaders. Eight of them have died. A supplementary charge sheet was filed against eight persons but not the 13 who were discharged for plotting the demolition.
Besides Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh (currently the Governor of Rajasthan), Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died).