The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday questioned the maintainability of a petition in the Allahabad High Court challenging the acquittal of 32 persons in the Babri Masjid demolition case, PTI reported.

In September last year, a special CBI court had acquitted all accused persons in the nearly three-decades-old criminal case. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh were among those accused of criminal conspiracy and other charges in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Petitioners Haji Mahboob Ahmad and Syed Akhlaq Ahmad filed a criminal appeal against the ruling. Justices Ramesh Sinha and Renu Agrawal of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court are hearing the matter, PTI reported.

At Monday’s hearing, the CBI contended that the appeal should be dismissed as it was not maintainable. CBI counsel Shiv P Shukla and government advocate Vimal Kumar Srivastava submitted to the court that the appellants do not have the right to file an appeal as they were not victims in the case.

Initially, the appellants had filed a revision petition against the acquittal. However, Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh had ruled that it was not maintainable under Section 372 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, which deals with the provision of appeals in criminal cases.

On the petitioners’ request, the court then allowed the revision plea to be converted to a criminal appeal.

The matter will be heard further on September 26, according to PTI.

Babri Masjid demolition and the acquittal

The Babri Masjid, located in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, was demolished by Hindutva extremists on December 6, 1992, because they believed that it stood on land that was the birthplace of Hindu deity Ram. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.

In his acquittal order last year, Special Judge SK Yadav had held that the evidence provided by the CBI against the 32 accused persons was not strong enough. He had said it was not possible to prove the authenticity of audio and the video evidence provided by the CBI.

The court said that the demolition was not planned and that those who demolished the mosque were “anti-national elements”. The accused leaders were, in fact, trying to control the crowds, the judgement noted.