New Delhi: Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani may face trial in the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case, the Supreme Court indicated on Monday.
The court is expected to reveal on March 22 whether or not conspiracy charges will be revived against Advani, 89, and other BJP leaders including Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti, NDTV reported.
The charge was dropped by lower courts.
Advani, Joshi and a dozen others including Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh — the governor of Rajasthan — were released by a court in Raebareli from conspiracy charges in the razing of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992 by Hindu activists who believed it was built on the birthplace of the deity Ram.
The main case against the activists — who called themselves Karsevaks — is pending in the Lucknow trial court.
The CBI has challenged the Allahabad High Court order in May 2010 confirming the lower court’s decision to drop conspiracy charges against the BJP veterans.
“We will not accept the discharge of Advani and others on technical grounds. We will allow you (CBI) to file a supplementary charge sheet against 13 persons by including the conspiracy charges. We will ask the trial court to conduct a joint trial,” the court told CBI, as reported by NDTV.
The Supreme Court on Sunday kept its options open on examining the dropping of conspiracy charge against the accused.
The apex court also came up with the option of ordering a joint trial of cases arising out of the two FIRs lodged in the wake of the demolition of the disputed structure.
“There are 13 persons who were discharged only on technical grounds. Today, we are saying why can’t we club both the cases and have a joint trial,” a bench comprising Justices P.C. Ghose and R.F. Nariman said.
“We will not accept the discharge on technical grounds and we will allow supplementary charge sheet,” the bench said.
These observations were made orally during a brief hearing by the bench, which posted the matter for further hearing on March 22.
However, the clubbing of two FIRs was opposed by the counsel for the accused on the ground that there were different sets of persons named as accused in the two cases, the trial of which were at an advanced stage at two different places.
They were of the view that joint trial would lead to the beginning of proceedings de novo (afresh).
Altogether, 13 persons including Advani, Joshi and Bharti were discharged of conspiracy charge in the case, the trial of which is being held at a special court in Raebareli.
The second set of case was against unknown ‘karsevaks’ who were in and around the disputed structure and the trial was being held at a court in Lucknow.
The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad (who has since died) and the CBI against dropping of conspiracy charges against BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and 19 others for demolition of the disputed medieval structure on December 6, 1992.
During the hearing, the bench also said that supplementary charge sheet was filed against eight persons but not against the 13 who were discharged.
Besides BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh (presently Governor of Rajasthan), Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died).