Babri Masjid Demolition Case: LK Advani and other senior leaders to be tried for conspiracy

Supreme Court: Giving out a major verdict, the Bench of P.C. Ghose and R.F. Nariman, JJ ruled that L.K. Advani, Vinay Katiar, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, Murli Manohar Joshi and Vishnu Hari Dalmia are to be tried for conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition which resulted into nation-wide riots between Hindu and Muslim community. The Court, however, said that Kalyan Singh, being the Governor of Rajasthan, is entitled to immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution as long as he remains Governor of Rajasthan. The Court of Sessions will frame charges and move against him as soon as he ceases to be Governor.

Stating that the cases against the leaders and the Kar Sewaks to be tried together by the Sessions Court at Lucknow, the Court asked the Sessions Court to frame additional charges under Section 120-B and the other provisions of the Penal Code mentioned in the joint charge-sheet filed by the CBI against Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma, and Dr. Satish Chandra Nagar.

Directing the Sessions Court to have daily hearings, the Court directed that the controversy should be given rest to within 2 years. It was further directed that there shall be no de novo trial, however, no prejudice will be caused to the accused as they have the right to recall witnesses already examined either in Rae Bareilly or in Lucknow for the purpose of cross-examination. Also, there shall be no transfer of the Judge conducting the trial until the entire trial concludes. The case shall not be adjourned on any ground except when the Sessions Court finds it impossible to carry on the trial for that particular date. In such an event, on grant of adjournment to the next day or a closely proximate date, reasons for the same shall be recorded in writing.

The demolition of the mosque was an outcome of the speech made by the BJP leaders at Ayodhya alleging that the Mosque was built upon the Ram Janmbhoomi i.e. the birthplace of Lord Ram. The Allahabad High Court, by order dated 22.05.2010, had dropped the charges of conspiracy against the aforementioned Senior leaders stating criminal conspiracy had never been made out against the said persons. The High Court also said that there were two classes of accused, namely, leaders who were on the dais exhorting the Kar Sewaks at 200 meters from the Masjid, and the Kar Sewaks themselves. The nature of the accusations against both was different and their involvement was for different criminal offences.

Considering the seriousness of the matter, the Court said that crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution of India have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago and the accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the State Government. The Court noticed that the filing of the supplementary charge sheet against 8 accused persons which is going on separately at Rae Bareilly and the dropping altogether of charges against the 13 accused persons has completely derailed the joint trial envisaged and has resulted in a fractured prosecution going on in two places simultaneously based on a joint charge-sheet filed by the CBI itself. [State v. Kalyan Singh, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 444, decided on 19.04.2017]

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