Babri Masjid Case: LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti will be tried for criminal conspiracy
New Delhi: Top BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and union minister Uma Bharti will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya, the Supreme Court said today. A day-to-day trial will be held in a court in Lucknow, judges said, and hearing must be completed in two years. Hours after the court's ruling, minister Uma Bharti said "ready to go to jail for Ram Mandir".
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had moved the top court seeking to revive the charge of criminal conspiracy against 13 people, including the BJP leaders.
Former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh is currently Governor of Rajasthan and so has immunity from prosecution. But he will be tried in the case after his term in office ends, the Supreme Court said today.
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambra and Vishnu Hari Dalmia of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) are among the others who will face trial for conspiracy. Three people named by the CBI have died - Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, and Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal of the VHP.
The Supreme Court bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said today that the trial court must frame charges against Mr Advani and others within four weeks.
There will be no fresh trial, the judges said. An ongoing case in Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli against the leaders will be transferred to the Lucknow court, clubbing it with the trial of about 20 others who are charged with the actual destruction of the mosque.
The CBI alleges that Mr Advani and the other leaders had hatched a conspiracy to bring down the mosque in 1990. It has also alleged that the leaders met at the residence of Vinay Katiyar on the night before the demolition, during which a final decision was taken.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court disagreed with the CBI about criminal conspiracy charges for the leaders, which meant that their case continued to be heard in Rae Bareli. The CBI had appealed against that decision in the Supreme Court.
Mr Advani and the others opposed the clubbing of the two cases on the grounds that they involve different people as accused. They also said that the trials were at different stages.
The Supreme Court is also hearing a case on who the disputed site in Ayodhya belongs to. Many Hindus believe that the mosque was built over the birthplace of Lord Ram and they want a temple to be built there. The demolition of the mosque in 1992 led to nationwide riots between Hindus and Muslims in which about 2,000 people were killed.