The Supreme Court today sought responses from senior BJP leader L K Advani and 19 others on a plea against dropping of criminal conspiracy charge against them in the Babri mosque demolition case.
Besides Advani, Union Minister Uma Bharti and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh also have been issued notices. The Allahabad High Court on May 20, 2010, absolved them of the conspiracy charges in the 22-years old case.
Here are the key facts about the case:
1. A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu issued notices to the BJP leader and the CBI on a separate plea filed by Haji Mahboob Ahmad, one of the petitioners in the Babri mosque case. Haji in his plea, has alleged that CBI may dilute its stand in the wake of the change in the government at the Centre.
Earlier, the CBI had moved the apex court against Allahabad High Court’s verdict on dropping conspiracy charge against Advani and 19 others in Babri mosque demolition case. CBI today sought time for filing a fresh affidavit on delay in filing the appeal and on the merits of the case. The court allowed the plea of the probe agency and granted four weeks time to file the response.
Though the matter had been pending before the apex court since March 3, 2011, it for the first time it came up for hearing after the formation of the Narendra Modi government triggering speculation whether there would be any shift in the stand of the government from the one taken by the UPA government.
2. The petition claims that CBI may not make adequate efforts to get conspiracy charges restored against party leader LK Advani and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case. According to a report in the Indian Express, Mehboob’s fears stem from the fact that Rajnath Singh, an accused in the case, is now Home Minister and his ministry had administrative control over CBI. Another accused, Kalyan Singh, is now Governor of Rajasthan.
His plea said that due to the change in political scenario, litigation policy of the Centre and statutory authorities had changed their stand. Moreover, Mehboob, who said his house was among the many burnt in the violence that followed the demolition, has requested the court to let him intervene and argue as a party in the case irrespective of CBI’s appeal since the agency’s intentions were doubtful. He said his petition ought to be heard on merits to ensure the matter is not botched up, the Express report added.
3. The CBI which had moved the apex court February 18, 2011, nearly nine months after the Allahabad high court verdict May 20, 2010, is yet to persuade the court on the justification for delay in challenging the high court order. The apex court had earlier pulled up CBI for the delay in filing an appeal against the Allahabad High Court verdict. CBI has challenged in the Supreme Court the May 21, 2010 order of the high court, which had upheld a special court’s decision to drop the charge against the leaders.
In its verdict, the high court had upheld the special CBI court order dropping conspiracy charge against Advani, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Murli Manohar Joshi. The others against whom the charge was dropped included Satish Pradhan, C R Bansal, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Sadhvi Ritambhara, V H Dalmia, Mahant Avaidhynath, R V Vedanti, Param Hans Ram Chandra Das, Jagdish Muni Maharaj, B L Sharma, Nritya Gopal Das, Dharam Das, Satish Nagar and Moreshwar Save. Bal Thackeray‘s name was removed from the list of accused persons after his death.
4. While upholding the special court’s order, the high court had allowed CBI to proceed with other charges against Advani and others in a Rae Bareily court, under whose jurisdiction the case falls. The May 2010 order of the high court had said there was no merit in CBI’s revision petition against the 4 May, 2001 order of the special court which had directed dropping of criminal conspiracy charge against them.
5. There are two sets of cases — one against Advani and others who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 when the Babri mosque was demolished, while the other case was against lakhs of unknown ‘karsevaks’ who were in and around the disputed structure.
6. CBI had charge sheeted Advani and 20 others under sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B
(imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc. circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the IPC. It had subsequently invoked charges under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC which was quashed by the special court whose decision was upheld by the high court. While upholding the special court’s order, the high court had said CBI at no point of time, either during the trial at Rae Bareily or in its revision petition, ever stated that there was offence of criminal conspiracy against the leaders.
7. On December 6, 1992, a mob of Hindu religious volunteers demolished the Babri mosque allegedly been built by the Mughal ruler Babar in the sixteenth century at a place where Lord Ram temple existed. Hindus regard Ayodhya as the birth place of Lord Rama.
Many senior leaders including Advani, MM Joshi, Vinay Katiyar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Hari Dalmiya, Sadhvi Ritambrara, and Mahant Avaidyanath were charged for conspiracy in the demolition.
With inputs from Agencies
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