SC slams CBI for not challenging HC order

Babri demolition: Lackadaisical approach weakened the case, says top court

SC slams CBI for not challenging HC order
The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the CBI for not challenging a 2001 Allahabad High Court order striking down the Uttar Pradesh government’s notification for a joint trial in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case.

A bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said the agency’s failure had derailed plans of a joint trial and resulted in simultaneous and fractured prosecution at two places, based on a joint charge sheet filed by the CBI.

There were two classes of accused, namely, leaders who were on the dais exhorting the kar sevaks at 200 metres from the mosque and the kar sevaks themselves. Two FIRs stand registered in connection with the demolition, one in Lucknow and the other in Raebareli.

In Lucknow, the accused, mainly the kar sevaks, faced charges of demolition, whereas those in Raebareli were being tried for instigating the crowd through their speeches.

The CBI sought a joint trial and in October 1993, filed a consolidated charge sheet against both sets of accused in Lucknow. But the cases could not be clubbed for want of sanction from the high court before setting up a special court to try the FIRs as one case.

In 2001, the Allahabad High Court affirmed the decision that the government’s notification of October 8, 1993, was invalid due to lack of approval from the high court.

Since no new notification was issued by the state government after this judgement, the Lucknow court dropped proceedings against 21 people, including Advani and Kalyan Singh, the incumbent governor of Rajasthan.

While Advani and seven others continued to face trial at Raebareli, 13 others, including Singh, were let off since no charges were pressed separately against them at Raebareli after their exoneration in Lucknow.

The CBI appealed against the high court order, and sought trial of all the 21 accused under criminal conspiracy charges, apart from other offences.

The apex court allowed the plea for a joint trial against the 2010 judgement of the high court, which had upheld dropping of the criminal conspiracy charges against Advani and others.

The top court said that the evidence for all these offences is almost the same and these offences, therefore, cannot be separated from each other.

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