BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi will not be present when a court in Uttar Pradesh announces its judgment in the Babri mosque case today.
Nearly 28 years after the 16th century mosque was demolished in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, a special CBI court in Lucknow will pronounce its verdict. BJP leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh are among the accused facing charges of criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity.
The court had asked all accused to be present for the judgment but not everyone can make it because of the Covid pandemic and health concerns.
LK Advani, 92 and MM Joshi, 86, have reportedly sought an exemption. Uma Bharti is in hospital with the coronavirus and Kalyan Singh is recovering from Covid. So is another high profile accused, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the chief of the Ram temple trust.
The court will rule whether the BJP leaders and the others accused instigated thousands of Hindu activists or "Kar Sewaks" to bring down the Babri mosque, believing it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple marking the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Uma Bharti, a former union minister, wrote to BJP Chief JP Nadda that she would not seek bail even if she was convicted. She had also told NDTV: "It does not matter to me what the judgement will be. If I am sent to the gallows, I will be blessed. The place where I was born will be happy."
Over nearly three decades, there have been many twists and turns in the case. The CBI first filed conspiracy charges against the top BJP leaders and then dropped it.
In 2017, the Supreme Court asked special CBI judge SK Yadav to conduct day-to-day hearings. He was supposed to announce his verdict by 2019 but it was delayed.