The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and 19 others on a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging their discharge in the Babri Masjid demolition conspiracy case.
An apex court bench of Justice V.S.Sirpurkar and Justice T.S.Thakur issued the notice after Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam pressed the investigating agency’s petition, finding fault with the Allahabad High Court verdict.
It took major efforts on the part of Subramaniam to persuade the court to issue notices, which it appeared reluctant to issue earlier. The court wanted to know as to why the investigating agency did not approach the courts where these cases were being tried.
The court said that issuance of notices would serve no purpose except delaying the trial in the cases currently going on in Lucknow and Rae Bareli courts. The court asked the solicitor general as to what prevented the investigating agency from filing a supplementary charge sheet adding the charge of criminal conspiracy.
As Subramanium told the court that these leaders were being tried for other charges at Rae Bareli court, the bench said ‘Then with what face you (investigating agency) are coming here?’
The apex court wanted the solicitor general to address the issue of what prevented the investigating agency from curing the defect that eventually led to the dropping of the charges of criminal conspiracy on a mere technality.
‘Why has Uttar Pradesh (government) not issued a notification to cure the defect pointed out by the high court? Ten years have passed. Why have you not done it?’ the court asked the solicitor general.
However, since the solicitor general said that the charges of criminal conspiracy were there in the FIR against these leaders, the court issued the notices.
Advani and 20 others were discharged by the high court on May 20, 2010 in a case in which they were accused of conspiracy to demolish the 16th century Babri Masjid by radical Hindu activists Dec 6, 1992, triggering widespread communal violence.
Besides Advani and Thackeray, other accused include senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Hari Dalmiya, as well as Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Ritambrara, Mahant Avaidyanath and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh,
The CBI appeal said that the reasons recorded by the trial court discharging Advani and other were fallacious.
‘Both the trial court and the high court have analysed the evidence and decided that there were two categories of accused persons and logically 21 persons (Advani and others) belonged to the category of instigators and distinct from those who actually executed the act of demolition,’ the appeal noted.
‘An artificial distinction was made by the trial court attempting to assign a role in respect of each of the accused persons and to see which offences were made out,’ the appeal said, adding this ‘classification is entirely unjustified and is unattainable’ and contending that all the ‘offences (instigation and actual act of demolition), form part of the same transaction’.
Initially the CBI had filed composite charge-sheet against 49 people and had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that their trial took place by the same court.
However, the special court separated the 21 BJP, Shiv Sena and VHP leaders and had directed their trial in Rae Bareli whereas for the remaining 28, the trial was directed to take place in Lucknow.