Babri Masjid demolition case: The court also observed that the December 6, 1992 incident was not pre-planned and there was no strong evidence to suggest a conspiracy by the accused.
Tight security measures were put in place to prevent any law and order situation in view of the verdict. (Photo source: ANI)
A Special CBI court in Lucknow today acquitted all accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, observing that the incident on December 6, 1992, incident was spontaneous and not pre-planned. The court also observed that there was no strong evidence to suggest a conspiracy by the accused. In its verdict which came almost 28 years after the 16th-century structure was brought down in Ayodhya, the Special CBI court observed that the incident was spontaneous and accused leaders tried to control the crowd.
The court had earlier asked all 32 accused, including BJP leaders L K Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi, to be present in court when the verdict is delivered. All accused in Babri Masjid demolition case, except Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Satish Pradhan and Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, were present at the Special CBI Court in Lucknow. The six accused who were not present in the courtroom attended the proceedings through video conferencing.
Tight security measures were put in place around the court and in Ayodhya to prevent any law and order situation in view of the verdict. The 32 accused in the case include Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Nritya Gopal Das, former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, and VHP president Champat Rai, among others.
A chargesheet against 49 people was initially filed by the CBI in the case, of whom 17 died during the course of the trial. The court recorded statements of 351 prosecution witnesses in the case.
A trial court had in 2001 dropped proceedings against 21 of the accused, a verdict upheld by the High Court. However, on April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ordered restoration of the conspiracy charges. The court also directed that the case be heard on a daily basis, and gave the Special CBI court two years to complete trial.
The accused face charges of conspiracy, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and having made assertions “prejudicial to national integration and injuring or defiling a place of worship”. The Ayodhya mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992 by ‘kar sevaks’ who claimed that it was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple. Two cases were subsequently filed in Ayodhya. While one related to the conspiracy of the demolition, the other related to instigating the crowd. The remaining cases were merged with the conspiracy FIR. While the trial in the conspiracy case was being held in a Lucknow court, the hearing of the case involving alleged instigation of the ‘kar sevaks’ was being held at a Rae Bareli court.
The CBI filed its chargesheet in 1993 against 49 accused, of whom 17 died during the course of the trial. The charges in the Rae Bareli case were framed in 2005 while in the Lucknow case, in 2010. While the CBI has argued that the accused conspired to bring down the Babri Masjid, a majority of the accused have pleaded innocence saying they were implicated by the then Congress government at the Centre as pasrt of political vendetta.
The verdict comes less than a year after the Supreme Court on November 9, 2019, allowed the construction of Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the mosque once stood in Ayodhya, settling the centuries-old land dispute. The court had, however, termed the demolition a violation of the law and asked the government to mark an alternative five-acre site in the city for building a mosque.