The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that trial of BJP stalwarts like LK Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case be completed and the verdict delivered within the next nine months.
The Supreme Court (SC) also said the examination of witnesses and documents must be kept as short as possible. The apex court today extended the tenure of Special Judge SP Yadav to complete the trial. Yadav, whose retirement was scheduled on September 30, had sought extra time to complete the trial.
In April 2017, the SC had asked the special judge to complete the trial within two years.
On May 30, 2017, special CBI court framed charges of criminal conspiracy against senior BJP leaders including Advani, Joshi, Bharti and eight others under section 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Supreme Court, on 19 April, had called the destruction of the mosque a “crime” that shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution” while allowing the CBI’s plea seeking restoration of the criminal conspiracy charges.
On 6 December 1992, the disputed structure in Ayodhya was pulled down by kar sevaks.
It is to be noted that conspiracy charges against Advani and others were dropped by the special CBI Court in 2001, which sought to distinguish between the main demolition case and the case related to hate speeches. The decision was endorsed by the Allahabad High Court in 2010.
On May 30, 2017, the court had granted bail to Advani and Joshi against the submission of a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each. Apart from Advani and Joshi, senior BJP leaders Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, senior VHP leader Vishnu Hari Dalmia and well-known social worker Sadhvi Ritambara were granted bail. They all appeared before the court in connection with the framing of charges, in the 25-year-old case, in the light of a Supreme Court order.
The Apex Court had transferred the case against Advani, Joshi, and Bharti among others from a Raebareli court to Lucknow for a joint trial in the demolition case.
Historically, the razing of the Ram temple — built in the honour of Lord Ram on Ramkot hill, which happens to be the Janmasthan (birthplace) of the revered Hindu deity — dates back to 1528. Mir Baqi, a general in the army of invader Babar had demolished the temple on his order and erected a “mosque” on its ruins. The “mosque” came to be known as “Babri Masjid”. The so-called mosque was originally called Masjid-e-Janmasthan, thus establishing the fact that it was built over the birthplace of Lord Ram. The Supreme Court is hearing the separate title suit for the site between Hindus and Muslims, which is going on for more than 50 years. In 2010 the Allahabad High Court had ordered the site to be divided equally in three parties, one Muslim and two Hindu groups. All the parties had appealed the order in Supreme Court.