Senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, LK Advani and Union Minister Uma Bharti will appear before a special CBI court in Lucknow in connection with Babri Masjid demolition case. Joshi and Advani left for Lucknow this morning from New Delhi. Notably, the court will frame charges against these BJP stalwarts. Apart from them, prominent BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia and Sadhvi Ritambara are likely to be present in the court. Special CBI judge S K Yadav had categorically mentioned that no application for adjournment or exemption from personal appearance shall be entertained, according to agency reports.
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The court, which will be hearing two separate cases relating to the demolition, would also frame charges against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan in the second matter.
The Supreme Court had on April 19 ordered prosecution of Advani (89), Joshi (83), Uma Bharti, and other accused for criminal conspiracy in the politically sensitive case. It had also ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years. The apex court ordered that two separate cases in Lucknow and Raebareli against Advani, Joshi and Bharti and unknown ‘kar sevaks’ shall be brought together in one trial.
The apex court also directed the trial court in Lucknow to commence the proceedings in four weeks and hear the matter on a day-to-day basis so as to complete the hearing in two years. The apex court also said there will be no ‘de novo’ (fresh) trial. The CBI has been ordered to ensure that at least one prosecution witness appears in the trial court for recording of testimony.
To ensure a speedy trial, the top court has given two important directions – first, no party shall be granted adjournments without the sessions’ judge being satisfied of the reasons for it; second, the trial judge hearing the case shall not be transferred till the judgement is delivered.
The top court had called the destruction of the medieval-era monument a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution” while allowing the CBI’s plea seeking restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the four BJP leaders, including Katiyar (62), and others.
However, the Supreme Court had said BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who is the Rajasthan Governor and during whose tenure as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was razed, is entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he holds the gubernatorial office.