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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Babri Masjid case: SC issues notice to LK Advani, other BJP leaders

Babri Masjid case: SC issues notice to LK Advani, other BJP leaders

Apex court acts on plea to not drop charges of criminal conspiracy, asks CBI to submit its response in the matter

CBI had moved the apex court against Allahabad high court’s verdict on dropping conspiracy charges against LK Advani and 19 others in Babri mosque demolition case. Photo: HTPremium
CBI had moved the apex court against Allahabad high court’s verdict on dropping conspiracy charges against LK Advani and 19 others in Babri mosque demolition case. Photo: HT

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to senior leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including L.K.Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh, on a plea not to drop charges of criminal conspiracy against them in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Ten months after the BJP swept to power at the centre, the legal notices have the potential to revive a debate over charging the four senior leaders of the BJP as well as members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) with conspiring to pull down the mosque in December 1992. The VHP is an arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the BJP.

In its notices, the Supreme Court has sought responses from all 19 people against whom charges of criminal conspiracy were dropped by the Allahabad high court in May 2010.

The move comes at a time when the VHP and right-wing fringe groups are again raising a demand for building a Ram temple on the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.

The notices were issued by a bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu to the BJP, VHP and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a plea filed by Haji Mahboob Ahmad, one of the petitioners in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The case was revived in the Supreme Court after Ahmad expressed the fear that the CBI may try to dilute its stand on the case now that a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is at the centre, led by the BJP.

The CBI had in 2010 appealed in the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Allahabad high court which had allowed charges of criminal conspiracy to be dropped against the 19 people.

In its verdict, the high court had upheld a special court order dropping the conspiracy charges against BJP patriarch Advani, Himachal Pradesh governor and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, cabinet minister Uma Bharati, former BJP general secretary Vinay Katiyar and former minister Murli Manohar Joshi.

The others against whom the charges were dropped included Satish Pradhan, C.R. Bansal, Ashok Singhal, late Giriraj Kishore, Sadhvi Ritambhara, V.H. Dalmia, Mahant Avaidhynath, R.V. Vedanti, Paramhans Ram Chandra Das, Jagdish Muni Maharaj, B.L. Sharma, Nritya Gopal Das, Dharam Das, Satish Nagar and Moreshwar Save. The name of former Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was removed from the list of accused after his death in 2012. The BJP could not be reached for comments on the development.

A group of right-wing Hindu fundamentalists on 6 December 1992 razed the Babri mosque, triggering communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere.

The site is currently under controlled access.

“These notices have revived the debate on the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the government will be on the defensive. BJP wanted to marginalize issues like the Babri Masjid demolition, uniform civil code by making development its core theme but these notices can create problems for the government," said A.K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst.

During the hearing of the plea on Tuesday, the CBI asked for time and the Supreme Court granted four weeks to the investigation agency to submit its response.

There are two sets of cases: one is against Advani and others who were present on the dais of Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya on the day of the demolition. The other is against hundreds of thousands of “kar sevaks"— unnamed in the case—who were present in and around the shrine.

The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 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 Indian Penal Code. PTI contributed to this story.

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Published: 31 Mar 2015, 12:45 PM IST
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