The appellants cannot be treated as 'victims', says court. (File)
The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the acquittal of 32 accused including former deputy prime minister L K Advani in the Babri mosque demolition case, saying the appellants have no locus standi in the matter.
A Lucknow bench of justices Ramesh Sinha and Saroj Yadav rejected the appeal by two Ayodhya residents - Haji Mahmood Ahmad and Syed Akhlaq Ahmad - in the admission stage.
"The two appellants cannot be treated as 'victims', therefore, they have no locus to maintain the instant appeal," the court said. The leaders whose acquittal was challenged include the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, senior BJP leaders M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, and Sadhvi Ritambhara.
The duo contended in the petition that they were witnesses in the trial against the accused and were "victims" of the demolition of the disputed structure and as such were entitled to file the appeal. In its objection, the state government counsel Arunendra, CBI counsel Shiv Shukla and an accused Champat Rai's senior counsel Raghvendra Singh had stressed that the two appellants were not complainants or victims in the case and they cannot appeal as a stranger against the verdict of the trial court.
After hearing the arguments of the parties, the bench reserved its order on October 31.
Relying on a full court judgment passed in the Manoj Kumar Singh case , the bench observed, "This court is of the opinion that the instant criminal appeal filed on behalf of the appellants under Section 372 Cr.P.C., is liable to be dismissed on the ground of non-availability of the locus to the appellants for challenging the judgment of the special CBI court and hence the same is, accordingly, dismissed."
The Babri mosque was demolished by karsewaks' on December 6, 1992. After a long legal battle, the special CBI court on September 30, 2020 pronounced the judgment in the criminal trial and acquitted all the accused. Against this verdict, the two Ayodhya residents filed the appeal which got dismissed on Wednesday at the admission stage.
The trial judge had refused to believe newspaper cuttings and video clips as evidence as the originals of the same were not produced, while the entire edifice of the case rested on these pieces of documentary evidence.
The trial judge had also held that the CBI could not produce any evidence that the accused had a meeting of mind with karsewaks who demolished the structure.
The appellants pleaded that the trial court committed an error in not convicting the accused when ample evidence was on record.
In the plea, they urged that the judgment of September 30, 2020 be set aside. On September 5, the CBI had filed a written preliminary objection against the maintainability of the appeal. The appellants then filed their rejoinder in the court and concluded their arguments.
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