New Delhi (IANS): The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and 17 others on a petition challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict discharging them of criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
Besides the two, union minister Uma Bharti and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh — who was Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the mosque was razed — have also been issued notice.
The Allahabad High Court on May 20, 2010 absolved them of the charge of criminal conspiracy that led to the razing of the 16th century mosque in the Uttar Pradesh town of Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
An apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra issued the notice as counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that a fresh application had been moved by Haji Mahboob Ahmed challenging the high court verdict.
The apex court also gave the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) four weeks to get the papers to support its case challenging the discharge of Advani and others.
Additional Solicitor General Neeraj Kishan Kaul told the apex court that the CBI had filed an affidavit explaining the delay in filing the petition challenging the high court ruling.
The apex court, while noting that delay in filing the petition by the CBI was on account of its drafting and approval by the central government’s senior law officer, said that the then bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar on February 4, 2013 had asked the government to file an affidavit to explain the reasons for the delay.
Allowing four weeks’ time, the court said it would hear the matter on the question of both delay and merits.
The CBI moved the apex court on February 18, 2011, nearly nine months after the Allahabad High Court verdict. The notice on the CBI plea was issued on March 3, 2011.
The CBI said in its appeal before the apex court that the high court ruling discharging Advani and others of the offence of criminal conspiracy “is inconsistent with the previous judgment rendered by the Allahabad High Court on February 12, 2001”.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had held that the trial court committed no illegality in taking “cognizance of joint consolidated chargesheet” and “all the offences were committed in the course of the same transaction to accomplish the conspiracy”.
The high court had noted that the “evidence for all the offences was almost the same”.
The other accused in the case include Vinay Katiyar, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Hari Dalmiya, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara and Mahant Avaidyanath.
Giriraj Kishore and Mahant Avaidyanath have passed away, and their names will be taken off.