All India | Reported by A Vaidyanathan, Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh | Updated: March 06, 2017 19:43 IST
LK Advani was cleared of conspiracy charges by lower court in Babri case
CBI has challenged High Court order confirming lower court decision
Supreme Court may announce order on March 22
Senior BJP leader LK Advani and other BJP leaders may face trial in the decades-old Babri mosque demolition case, the Supreme Court indicated today. The court is expected to reveal on March 22 whether or not conspiracy charges will be revived against Mr Advani, 89, and other leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti. The charge was dropped by lower courts.
Mr Advani, Mr Joshi and a dozen others including Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh – the Governor of Rajasthan – were released by a court in Raebareli from conspiracy charges in the razing of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram.
The main case against the activists – who called themselves Karsevaks – is pending in the Lucknow trial court.
The CBI has challenged the Allahabad High Court order in May 2010 confirming the lower court’s decision to drop conspiracy charges against the BJP veterans.
“We will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds. We will allow you (CBI) to file a supplementary chargesheet against 13 persons by including the conspiracy charges. We will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial,” the court told CBI.
Strongly opposing this, Mr Advani’s lawyer had told the court that if conspiracy charges are added, then 183 witnesses who had testified in a lower court would have to be called again.
Of the two cases in the Babri demolition, one is against Mr Advani and the other BJP leaders who were on the dais at a raised platform called “Ram Katha Kunj” around 200 metres from the mosque site, where many provocative speeches were allegedly made.
The other case is against lakhs of unknown karsevaks who were in and around the disputed structure and are accused of pulling down the three domes in an act that changed the face of Indian politics and caused a deep rift between two communities.
Mr Advani and Mr Joshi, who emerged as the BJP’s most prominent faces along with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the height of the temple-mosque dispute, have retreated into the wings after being assigned a mentorship role in 2014.