he Supreme Court on Friday said it will hold a hearing in December on the CBI’s plea challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict discharging BJP leader LK Advani, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and 19 others in the Babri Masjid demolition conspiracy case.
A bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad directed the listing of the matter in December’s first week.
The apex court March 4, 2011, had issued a notice to Advani, Bal Thackeray and the others on a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which challenged their discharge in the Babri Masjid demolition conspiracy case.
Advani and 20 others were discharged by the Allahabad High Court on May 20, 2010, of the charge that they conspired to demolish the 16th century Babri Masjid by radical Hindu activists on Dec 6, 1992, triggering widespread communal violence.
Besides Advani and Thackeray, other accused include Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders M.M. Joshi, Vinay Katiyarand Uma Bharti, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Sadhvi Ritambrara, and Mahant Avaidyanath, and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh.
The CBI, in its appeal, has said that the reasons recorded by the trial court discharging Advani and other were fallacious.
It said both the trial court and the high court decided that there were two categories of accused, and 21 people (Advani and others) belonged to the category of instigators and distinct from those who actually executed the act of demolition.
“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,” said the appeal.
“The trial court erroneously came to the conclusion that 21 persons were not entitled to be tried in the crime case No. 197/1992 (actual act of demolition) but should be tried under crime case No.198/92 (instigation).”
This “classification is entirely unjustified and is unattainable” the CBI said and contended that all the “offences (instigation and actual act of demolition), form part of the same transaction.”
The CBI had initially filed composite charge sheet against 49 people and 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 directed their trial in Rae Bareli whereas the remaining 28 were to be tried in Lucknow.
The appeal said that the high court verdict discharging Advani and others of the offence of criminal conspiracy “is inconsistent with the previous judgment rendered by the Allahabad High Court on Feb 12, 2001.”
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High court by the 2001 order had held that the trial court committed no illegality in taking “cognizance of joint consolidated charge sheet” and “all the offences were committed in the course of the same transaction to accomplish the conspiracy”.
The CBI had moved the apex court Feb 18, 2011, nearly nine months after the high court verdict.