NEW DELHI (TIP): The Supreme Court indicated that it could order a timebound trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case, including of BJP veterans LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati, after the CBI told the court that they were part of a larger “conspiracy” to bring down the structure and should be tried along with the ‘kar sevaks’ responsible for the act.
A bench comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and RF Nariman on Thursday reserved its order on the CBI’s argument and on holding the trial on two cases related to the 1992 demolition — currently being held in Lucknow and Rae Bareilly — in one location, Lucknow.
Trial would have to be completed in two years with day-to-day hearings, the bench said as it was told of judges retiring and frequent adjournments during the trial, both at Rae Bareilly and Lucknow.
“Why should they (the accused) carry the burden of the case for over 17 years,” Justice Ghose asked. Justice Nariman dubbed it a case of “evasion” of justice, insisting that the court cannot allow a technical defect to stand in the way of justice. “Some of the accused have died. Others will also die,” Justice Nariman said.
The case being heard in Rae Bareilly is against eight BJP and VHP leaders, including Advani and Joshi, while the one in Lucknow has ‘kar sevaks’ as the accused. While the ordinary workers are facing charges of criminal conspiracy, the leaders are not — they are currently charged with instigating the workers through their speeches.
he CBI now wants the charge of criminal conspiracy revived against Advani and others, after the Allahabad High Court had given a quietus to the charges.
“During the course of investigations, the CBI came across evidence of conspiracy … of concerted action in tandem,” the CBI counsel, additional solicitor general Neeraj Kishan Kaul, told the bench. Senior advocate KK Venugopal, who appeared for Advani and Joshi, resisted any bid to transfer the Rae Bareilly case to Lucknow.
Instead, he suggested that in view of Advani’s advanced age, the charge of criminal conspiracy be added to the Rae Bareilly charge sheet, which the court said was not permissible in law. The top court eventually reserved orders for judgement on this after hearing all sides. In the meantime, parties could submit fresh written submissions till Tuesday.
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