The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on whether to revive criminal conspiracy charges against the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who had been acquitted in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The accused in question include veteran party leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, as well as Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh. The court’s move came after the Central Bureau of Investigation told the bench that the BJP leaders should be tried in the matter as they had been part of a larger conspiracy behind the demolition, Hindustan Times reported.
“Criminal conspiracy charges were dropped against 21 accused, including several BJP leaders, on technical grounds,” the agency said. “There are two FIRs registered against all the accused in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.” The CBI pointed out that they had already interrogated 195 witnesses and needed to question 300 more.
There are two cases in connection with the Babri mosque demolition – one in Lucknow and the other in Raebareli. The Raebareli court is hearing a case against leaders of the BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, while the other case against karsevaks is pending in the Lucknow trial court. The Supreme Court has suggested clubbing the two.
The bench, comprising justices PC Ghose and Rohinton Nariman, also indicated that it may transfer the Raebareli case against BJP and VHP leaders to Lucknow for a joint trial by the CBI court. Justice Ghose said the 25-year delay in the Babri demolition trials was an “evasion of justice”, and that the Supreme Court plans to order the joint trial to be completed in two years, The Hindu reported.
The Supreme Court had dismissed BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea for an urgent hearing in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute on March 31. The court had earlier deferred the hearing in the case after Advani’s counsel KK Venugopal had said he would not be able to argue the case on Thursday as he was busy with another.
On March 6, the court had asked the CBI to file a supplementary chargesheet including the conspiracy charges against the accused. “We will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds,” the court had said.
On December 6, 1992, the mosque was demolished by lakhs of karsevaks, who had gathered at the site from across the country. The incident had triggered communal riots across the country.