SC restores trial of Advani, Joshi, Bharti in Babri case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday revived the conspiracy charge in Babri Masjid demolition case against senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Union Minister Uma Bharti, among others. Restoring the conspiracy charge, a bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman also transferred their trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Nariman said that since Kalyan Singh being the Governor of Rajasthan enjoys constitutional immunity from being prosecuted, the trial court would proceed against him the day he ceases to be the Governor. The court also said that the trial court in Lucknow would frame additional charges against Advani and others and proceed against them. The court said that there would be no de-novo trial and the trial court judge would not be transferred till trial was over.

Directing the trial court to complete the trial in two years time, the top court said that it would proceed on day-to-day basis and there would be no adjournments. The court said that adjournment would take place only if the trial court judge feels that it was impossible to proceed and fix the next date of hearing after recording the reasons for the adjournment. The apex court verdict was on a CBI plea challenging the Allahabad High Court order quashing the conspiracy charge against Advani and others.

There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the VVIPs in a Rae Bareli court. On April 6, the bench had indicated that they may order holding of joint trial of the two sets of cases by transferring the trial from Rae Bareli to the Lucknow court. Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Advani and Joshi, had vociferously opposed the proposal for holding joint trial and transferring their case from Rae Bareli to Lucknow.

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The CBI had clarified that it was not making any submission on the issue of the trial of the VVIPs accused but restricting itself to restoration of the charge of conspiracy against them. The apex court had earlier decided to examine the appeal against dropping of conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and 10 others. The clubbing of two FIRs was opposed by the counsel for the accused on the ground that there were different sets of persons named as accused in the two cases, the trial of which were at an advanced stage at two different places. They were of the view that joint trial would lead to the beginning of de novo (afresh) proceedings.

Source : http://www.thehansindia.com

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