Mosque demolition: CBI challenges Advani clean-chit

Friday, February 18, 2011

NEW DELHI - The CBI Friday challenged in the Supreme Court the Allahabad High Court verdict discharging Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani and 20 others from a criminal conspiracy case linked to the Dec 6, 1992 Babri Masjid demolition in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya town.

Advani and 20 others were discharged by the high court May 20, 2010 in a case in which they were accused of conspiracy to demolish the 16th century Babri Masjid by radical Hindu activists, triggering widespread communal violence.

The move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) assumes significance as it comes on the eve of the budget session of parliament and the government, clouded by various scams, appears to be on the back foot in the wake of the opposition parties’ offensive.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is also involved in other legal tangles in the apex court for its inaction in major scams including the 2008 second generation (2G) spectrum allocation to telecom companies involving former communications minister A. Raja.

Besides Advani, other accused include senior BJP leaders M.M. Joshi and Vinay Katiyar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders Ashok Singhal and Giriraj Kishore, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and Shiv Sena leader Balasaheb Thackrey, besides Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambra and Mahant Avaidyanath.

When the mosque was demolished Uttar Pradesh had a BJP government headed by Kalyan Singh.

The mosque was demolished despite an assurance to the Supreme Court by the Kalyan Singh government that it would be protected.

The CBI appeal said that the reasons recorded by the trial court for discharging Advani and others were fallacious.

“Both the trial court and the high court have analysed the evidence and decided that there were two categories of accused persons and logically 21 persons (Advani and others) belonged to the category of instigators and distinct from those who actually executed the act of demolition,” the appeal said.

The appeal said that “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 for the actual act of demolition but should be tried in the case related to instigation.

It is submitted that this “distinction has been made on the ground that in respect of persons against whom only offences of instigation and other allied offences are made out that they should be relegated to (instigation) case No. 198/1992, however, in respect of persons who were indulging in actual demolition they should be tried out in (demolition) case No. 197/92 along with the offences relating to snatching of cameras and assault of media persons,” the appeal noted.

It said that this “classification is entirely unjustified and is untainable” and contended that all the “offences (instigation and actual act of demolition), form part of the same transaction”.

The CBI intially filed a composite charge sheet against 49 people and asked the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that their trial was conducted in one special court.

However, the special court separated the case related to 21 BJP and VHP leaders and directed their trial in Rae Bareilly whereas for the remaining 28 accused the trial was directed to be held in Lucknow.

The CBI appeal said that the high court verdict discharging Advani and others of the offence of criminal conspiracy “is inconsistent with the previous judgment rendered by the Allahabad High Court on Feb 12, 2001″.

The political leaders were slapped with charges for committing offences including wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot, imputations prejudicial to national integration and statements conducing to public mischief.

The radical Hindu activists who were accused of carrying out the actual act of demolition were charged under sections relating to robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause grievous hurt, causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty, endangering life or personal safety of others, injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class and promoting enmity between different groups.

The CBI in its appeal said that it was not necessary for it to have added criminal conspiracy charges in the case as these 21 people were “legitimately a part of the larger conspiracy which was the subject matter of the allegations and the investigations”.

Filed under: Religion

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