Babri case: SC notice to Thackeray, Advani
The Supreme Court on Friday asked Bharatiya Janata Party leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and others to spell out their stands on the Central Bureau of Investigation's plea for restoration of charges of hatching a criminal conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid in 1992 against them.
A bench of justices V S Sirpurkar and T S Thakur sought to know their stands while issuing notices to them. The bench asked them to file their replies within four weeks.
The apex court issued the notices after Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the CBI, questioned the legality of the Allahabad high court's order last May, upholding a special CBI judge's decision to quash the charges of criminal conspiracy against the leaders.
The CBI has moved the apex court challenging the high court's May 20, 2010 order, dismissing the CBI plea for revival of criminal conspiracy charges against top BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders, which also included Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Sadhvi Rithambara and Mahant Avaidya Nath.
Image: Advani waves as he comes out of a district court in Rae Bareli in July, 2005
CBI moved the SC in February
The other leaders were former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh.
Challenging the high court order, the CBI has said in its petition that "it appears an artificial distinction was made by the trial court attempting to assign a role in respect of each of the accused persons and to see which offences were made out. The trial court erroneously came to the conclusion that 21 persons were not entitled to be tried in the case (pertaining to the demolition on December 6, 1992)."
"The order passed by the high court results in serious miscarriage of justice, violates the principle of consolidated investigation, consolidated charge-sheet and also disables an effective trial," the petition has said.
The May 2010 order of the high court had said there was no merit in the CBI's revision petition challenging the May 4, 2001 order of the special court which directed the dropping of criminal conspiracy charges against them.
Image: Bal Thackeray
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
No reprieve for Advani
There are two sets of cases -- one against Advani and others who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya in December 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, while the other case was against lakhs of unknown 'karsevaks' who were in and around the disputed structure.
Upholding the 2001 order of the special CBI court, the high court had said, "Nothing is found against the correctness, legality, propriety or regularity in respect of any of the findings of the lower court."
The CBI had charge-sheeted Advani and 20 others under sections 153A of the Indian Penal Code (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).
The judge had also said that the CBI at no point of time, either during the trial at Rae Bareli or in its revision petition, ever stated that there was offence of criminal conspiracy against the leaders, as was being submitted now.
Image: The Babri Masjid before it was demolished