Despite opposition from CBI, Advani, Joshi and Uma get bail in Babri demolition case
Rejecting the discharge application of all 12 accused, the Special CBI Court (Ayodhya Prakaran) on Tuesday found sufficient evidence to frame criminal conspiracy charges against former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, former HRD minister Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Union minister Uma Bharti and nine others under Section 120-B of the IPC.
As directed by the court, all the 12 accused appeared and surrendered before the court on Tuesday. Their counsels moved a joint bail application which was opposed by the CBI. The Court, however, granted bail to all of them on furnishing personal bonds of Rs 50,000 each.
Pleading ‘not guilty’ on criminal conspiracy charges, counsels of the accused then moved discharge application. After an hour of reserving the verdict, the CBI Judge SK Yadav rejected the application noting prosecution arguments that it has sufficient evidence to prove charges under Section 120-B.
The court framed conspiracy charges against all accused — Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Vishnua Hari Dalmia, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Dr Ram Vilas Vedanti, Champat Rai Bansal, Baikunth Lal Sharma, Mahant Dharam Das Maharaj and Satish Pradhan for the demolition of Babri mosque in 1992.
Advani caused a flutter in the court when he refused to sign the order saying he was not guilty and not properly heard by the court. For about half-an-hour, tension ran high inside the court. Later, the charge-sheet was signed by all the 12 accused, including Advani, to complete the process of framing of charges.
Counsels for the accused maintained that charges are baseless. They have decided to file revision petition in the Allahabad High Court against the CBI Special Court Tuesday order rejecting their discharge application.
Among all the accused, Tuesday’s CBI Court order came as a major setback to Advani and Bharti. The Opposition has demanded Bharti’s resignation from Modi Cabinet, and Advani is finally out of the race for the Presidential election.
It is after nearly 25 years that charges in the Babri demolition case were finally framed against the accused. For the last two-and-a- half decades, the case was hanging between Lucknow to Rae Bareli courts. Out of 49 accused, only 12 (excluding Kalyan Singh) remained alive to face the trial.
The ICCMRT building in Indiranagar Lucknow housing Special CBI Court (Ayodhya Prakaran) suddenly buzzed with activities after a decade or so when senior BJP, VHP and Shiv Sena leaders started descending there. The building was turned into a fortress and except for those related to the case, even media was not allowed inside.
In addition to charges under Sections 147, 153-A, 153-B, 295 and 295-A of the IPC, the criminal conspiracy charges under Section 120-B were slapped and added against the accused on Supreme Court’s order dated April 19. There were as many as 49 accused in case no 198/92 but most of them died during the court proceedings from Lucknow to Rae Bareli courts in the past 25 years.
As of now there are 12 accused, excluding Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, whose name was dropped from court proceedings due to constitutional immunity he enjoys being the Governor.
Now when trial begins on day to day basis, the CBI may face a daunting task ahead to prove the criminal conspiracy charge. Except for eye-witnesses, the investigating may not have much material evidence to prove the charge. Court sources confide that tapes containing video and audio recordings of provocative speeches by these leaders on that fateful day are almost destroyed due to negligence as they were lying unkempt for long at ICCMRT Building at Indiranagar Lucknow.
Earlier, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath greeted Advani, Dr Joshi, on their arrival at the VVIP Guest House in Lucknow. “There is no criminal conspiracy. It is all lies by the CBI. Mulayam Singh Yadav had also admitted of firing in which 16 Kar Sevkas were killed. He (Mulayam) should also be tried by the Court,” stated the BJP MP Vinay Katiyar.