Babri Masjid demolition: Tale of two cases trail

Babri Masjid demolition: Tale of two cases trail

Babri Masjid demolition: Tale of two cases trail

There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.

The first involved unnamed ‘karsevaks’ or volunteers, the trial of which was taking place in a Lucknow court.  The second set of cases relate to senior BJP leaders including L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in a Rae Bareli court.

With today’s Supreme Court's order, both these cases are merged and will be heard in Lucknow. The apex court  ordered clubbing the two trials. 

The senior BJP leaders will be tried under the composite charge sheet filed by the CBI on October 5, 1993.

The two criminal cases were registered in Faizabad after the 16th century Babri Masjid was demolished on December 6, 1992. 

The clubbing of the two cases in Lucknow was strongly opposed by lawyers for Advani and his colleagues on the grounds that they involve different people as the accused.

Senior advocate K K. Venugopal objected to the court’s proposal to use its formidable powers under Article 142 to club both Babri cases. He submitted that a joint trial would now delay justice for his clients.

The first case ( Case No. 197,1992) was filed against lakhs of kar sevaks for demolition of the masjid. The FIR invoked various sections under which the maximum punishment for an offender could be 10 years in prison.

The second case ( case No. 198, 1992) was filed against BJP and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders for "inciting communal violence."

In September 1997, the CBI judge, perusing the composite chargesheet of the agency file in October 1993, had found prima facie evidence against 13 persons, including Advani and Joshi, for criminal conspiracy.

However, the cases  received their first setback in February 2001 when a single judge of the Allahabad High Court found a technical default. Though the single judge upheld the CBI chargesheet and agreed there was evidence of conspiracy, he had pointed out that the state government had not sought the permission of the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court while first transferring the Rae Bareilly case to Lucknow in August 1993 for a joint probe by the CBI.

The “technical default” in the transfer of the Rae Bareilly case to Lucknow in 1993 was “curable” by the State government. But it did not do so.

In May 2001, Advani and other politicians challenged the conspiracy charge. A lower court subsequently dropped the charge and the Rae Bareilly case eventually returned to the Rae Bareilly Magistrate. After nearly a decade, the CBI appealed to the Allahabad High Court for its revival.  The Allahabad High Court disagreed with the CBI about criminal conspiracy charges against the senior BJP leaders before the Rae Bareli court.

In 2010, the CBI appealed against that decision in the Supreme Court. Despite the change of government at the centre in 2014, the CBI maintained that Advani and other BJP leaders met the night before the mosque was brought down and decided that it would be razed, rendering the demolition a "pre-meditated, deliberate event."

The CBI also mainted that Advani and other leaders like Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh made incendiary speeches from a dais close to the mosque, which motivated the volunteers to raze the structure.