Legal tangle in Babri wrangle


Legal experts feel that the the decision in the case would get delayed further if the parties concerned again move the special court, seeking some fresh order in the light of the Liberhan panel report.

A section of the lawyers however opine that the report would have “no bearing on the court case” as it was advisory in nature. “It is a fact finding report. The court cannot take suo motu cognisance of it,” said a lawyer.

The hearing of the case picked up momentum after it was brought to the special court, where till date eight witnesses have deposed on behalf of the CBI — the prosecuting agency — but the trial of a similar case in a special court in Lucknow has not even begun.

Those who have deposed in the matter on behalf of CBI included constable Hanuman Prasad, the then CRPF commandant R K Swami, Ayodhya residents Mohammad Aslam, Awadhesh Upadhyaya, Sanjay Khare, a photographer, sub-inspectors R B Mishra and Jitendra Kumar Mishra and journalist C K Mishra. Mishra deposed before the court on Monday and the matter would come up for further hearing on Dec 19 next.

Long procedure

As many as nine main witnessed are likely to be produced by the CBI, besides some others. According to legal experts the matter is likely to linger on as the defence also had a long list of witnesses.

The case in which BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi and Vinay Katiyar, former Union minister Uma Bharti, VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Sadhvi Ritambhara are accused is being heard by the special court.
Earlier, the special court had discharged Advani citing lack of evidence and ordered framing of charges against seven other accused persons. Joshi and others then challenged the order in the high court.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court in 2005 ordered framing of charges against all the eight accused including Advani. A similar case involving over 35 other accused persons is pending trial in a special Lucknow court. The high court has stayed the proceedings at the Lucknow court.

The Babri Masjid demolition case has been embroiled in legal controversies from the very beginning, which resulted in a delayed trial of the main accused persons, according to experts. Interestingly, the case files pertaining to the demolition cases had to take rounds of one court after another for as many as 10 years before finally reaching the special court.

To start with, the matter was referred to the special court in Lalitpur in 1993, from where it was sent to Raebareli to the special judge at Lucknow. In 2003 it was again sent back to Raebareli court. The accused persons tried to stall the proceedings in the court by moving the superior courts raising objections over every ruling of the lower court thus delaying the trial.

The CBI’s decision to file a composite chargesheet was also challenged by the accused persons on the ground that necessary permission of the high court was not obtained for transferring the investigation of one of the FIRs to the special court at Lucknow. The high court later quashed the charges against the accused persons on the same ground and dropped proceedings against them.

Another case, the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid Title Suits, is currently being tried in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court. This case has been pending trial since 1961. A judgement in this case is expected by the end of 2009, according to the Sunni Central Waqf Board, which is a plaintiff in the matter, lawyer Zafaryab Jilani.

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