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Advani was charged on suspicion: Verdict
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow |
September 19, 2003 18:35 IST
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani was charged in the Babri Masjid demolition case merely on suspicion, according to the 130-page verdict given on Friday by Judge V K Singh of the Rae Bareli special court.
Judge Singh is hearing the case against Advani and seven other Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders accused of being party to the conspiracy that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
The court, on October 10, will frame charges against the remaining seven on the basis of the Central Bureau of Investigation's charge sheet.
The seven are Union Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti (BJP), Ashok Singhal, Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Giriraj Kishore and Sadhvi Rithambara (VHP).
All of them have been cleared of the charge of criminal conspiracy. The charges to be framed now are of a milder nature.
Broadly, these include 'inciting communal disharmony through public utterances' and 'unlawful assembly with the intent of rioting', as laid down under sections 147, 149 and 153 of the Indian Penal Code.
The court said there was a difference in the nature of charges against Advani and the rest.
"While the charges levelled by the CBI against Advani were based on suspicion, that was not the case with the others. Hence, his case has been dealt with separately," a court official said.
But Mridul Rakesh, senior counsel for Advani and the others, said the charges were identical. "Even though we have been able to get only one of the eight accused persons exonerated, we are happy with the judgment simply because now we have enough scope to get the same relief for others from an appellate court. After all the charges against each of them were identical, so why has relief been denied to them?" Rakesh told rediff.com
S K Saini, prosecution counsel representing the CBI, remained non-committal. "I cannot say anything without going through the judgment. However, I would like to emphasise that we had argued our case very strongly," Saini said.
Asked if the CBI would appeal, Saini said, "Well, that is for the CBI higher-ups to decide."