A special court hearing the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case, today issued summons to a CBI witness, asking him to appear before it tomorrow. Special Judge SK Yadav issued the summons to the witness of the CBI after the agency’s counsel furnished a list of the 196 witnesses examined by courts in Lucknow and 57 in Raebareli to the lawyers of BJP leader L K Advani and the other accused in the case. The defence counsel also sought copies of statements of these witnesses which were provided to them. Subsequently, the court issued summons to the witness of the CBI.
The judge had yesterday framed charges against BJP veterans Advani, M M Joshi, Union minister Uma Bharti and nine others for criminal conspiracy in the case of demolition of the 16th-century structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. The Supreme Court had ordered restoration of the conspiracy charge against them on April 19.
The charges were framed against former deputy prime minister Advani (89), former Union minister Joshi (83), Bharti (58), BJP MP Vinay Katiyar (62), VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmiya (89) and one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Rithambara (53). All the six were granted bail by judge Yadav on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each after rejecting the CBI’s opposition to their bail plea.
The charge of conspiracy is in addition to the existing charges against them for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion for which they are already facing trial. The apex court had, while restoring the charge of criminal conspiracy, directed clubbing of the two cases relating to the demolition. The court had also ordered that the trial be concluded in two years.
Besides the six, conspiracy charges were also framed against Ramvilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Nritya Gopaldas, Dharam Das and Satish Pradhan — all of whom were allegedly present when the structure in Ayodhya was pulled down. The accused are also facing charges of having made assertions “prejudicial to national integration and injuring or defiling a place of worship”.
The other charges against them include indulging in “deliberate and malicious” acts intended to outrage religious feelings, uttering statements leading to public mischief, rioting and unlawful assembly. The maximum punishment upon conviction after restoration of the conspiracy charge could be up to five years in jail or a fine or both, according to a lawyer.