New Delhi/Mumbai: Welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision of allowing the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) appeal challenging the withdrawal of conspiracy charges against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders including L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, the Congress Party on Wednesday demanded action against them.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said those ministers holding constitutional positions must offer their resignations.
“I salute the Supreme Court. Although the decision came late, it was expected. The BJP tried a lot so that justice is not delivered. It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. All the tactics of the BJP has failed,” he added.
Resonating similar sentiments, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik said Union Water Resources and River Development Minister Uma Bharti is also a conspirator in the matter and so it becomes the responsibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately sack her from the position.
“It also becomes the responsibility of Kalyan Singh to resign from his post,” he added.
The apex court has ruled that senior BJP leaders including Advani, Bharti and Joshi will face criminal conspiracy charges in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The apex court has directed the sessions judge in Lucknow to conduct the trial in the Babri demolition case on a daily basis, and that the judge will not be transferred. It also ruled out a fresh trial in the case.
The top court has also ordered the CBI to ensure that witnesses are produced in court everyday so that there is no delay in the Babri demolition case trial. The trial will have to be completed in two years.
However, the apex court has clarified that Kalyan Singh, being Governor of Rajasthan, will not be tried due to constitutional immunity unless he ceases to be in that post. In effect, his trial will begin after his term as Governor ends.
Singh was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the demolition took place.
Others who will face criminal conspiracy charges are Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal. The late Giriraj Kishore is also among the names in the original chargesheet.
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992.
The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’ or volunteers, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the VVIPs in a Raebareli court.
With today’s order, both these cases are merged and will be heard in Lucknow.
The order comes after the CBI had petitioned the apex court saying 14 people, including BJP leaders, who had been acquitted of the charges under criminal conspiracy, should be tried in the Lucknow Court.
Babri Masjid demolition Timeline in a glance
On December 6, 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the site turned violent.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) organised a rally at the site involving 150,000 volunteers, known as ‘kar sevaks’. The rally turned violent, and the crowd overwhelmed security forces and tore down the mosque.
A subsequent inquiry into the incident found 68 people responsible for the demolition, including several leaders of the BJP and the VHP. The demolition also resulted in several months of inter-communal rioting between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities, causing the death of at least 2,000 people.
There were two sets of cases relating to the Babri Masjid demolition.
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 BJP leaders, including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, in a Raebareli court.
The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc. circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
It had subsequently invoked charges under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, which was quashed by the special court whose decision was upheld by the high court.
Here is the sequence of events related to the case so far:
April 19, 2017: The Supreme Court revived conspiracy charges against L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and 13 others in the 25-year-old Babri Masjid demolition cases.
April 6, 2017: The Supreme Court indicated that it will use its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to transfer the Babri Masjid demolition related trial in Raebareili against top BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi to Lucknow, where a CBI court is hearing conspiracy and other serious criminal charges against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” for the actual act of razing down the 15th century mosque.
March 23, 2017: A Supreme Court Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Rohinton Nariman posted for detailed hearing the CBI appeal against the dropping of the criminal conspiracy charge against veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani and other top party leaders after two weeks.
March 21, 2017: Suggesting an out-of-court rapprochement among rival parties in the 68-year-old Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute, Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar advised peace negotiations instead of a pitched court battle, even offering help to settle the fight amicably.
March 6, 2017: Supreme Court indicates it may revive conspiracy charge and order a joint trial of crimes 197 and 198.
December 25, 2014: Oldest litigant in Babri Masjid case passes away
Mohammad Farooq, a resident of Ayodhya, was one of the seven main litigants from Muslim side in the 1949 Babri Masjid case.
May 9, 2011: Supreme Court stays Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya dispute.
February, 2011: CBI moves Supreme Court. Argues that “the actual demolition of the Babri Masjid and the continuous assault on media persons form a single connected transaction and can well be a concerted conspiracy”.
September 30, 2010: Allahabad HC awards two-thirds of Ayodhya site to Hindu parties, one-third to Waqf Board.
May 20, 2010: Advani, others absolved of conspiracy charges
May 4, 2001: Special Judge S.K. Shukla drops conspiracy charge against 13 accused, including Advani and Kalyan Singh. Bifurcates Crimes 197 and 198.Allahabad HC upholds May 4, 2001 special court order, dismisses the CBI’s revision petition for a direction to proceed with the conspiracy charge against Advani and others.
1994: Case goes back to Lucknow Bench of HC, suits heard again from 1996.
October, 1993: CBI files a composite charge sheet and accuses Advani and other leaders of ‘conspiracy’
1993: Govt. takes over 67 acres of land around the area, seeks SC’s opinion on whether there existed a Hindu place of worship before the structure was built.
December 1992: Babri Masjid demolished by a frenzied mob of karsevaks. Two FIRs filed in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Crime no. 197 deals with actual “demolition of the mosque by karsevaks.” Crime no. 198 named L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others for ‘communal’ speeches before the demolition.
1991: U.P. govt. acquires land around the structure for convenience of devotees who attend Ram Lalla darshan.
1989: The four suits pending were transferred to the High Court.
1986: District judge orders locks be removed. Site opened for Hindu worshippers.
1959: Nirmohi Akhara files third suit, seeking direction to hand over charge of the disputed site. U.P. Sunni Central Wakf Board files fourth suit in 1961 for declaration and possession and fifth in 1989 in the name of Ram Lalla Virajman for declaration and possession.
1950: Paramahansa Ramachandra Das files a suit for continuation of pooja and keeping idols in the structure.
1950: Gopal Simla Visharad files first suit in Faizabad civil court for rights to perform pooja to Ram Lalla.
1949: Idols of Ram Lalla are placed surreptitiously under the central dome.
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