Prime Minister AB Vajpayee on Tuesday rejected HRD Minister MM Joshi's resignation. His decision came after the Allahabad High Court stayed the framing of charges against Joshi by a special court in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The HRD minister had resigned 11 days ago when a Rae Bareli court decided to frame charges against him.
After Joshi informed Vajpayee about the high court's decision, the Prime Minister congratulated him and told him his resignation had been rejected. Joshi said he accepted the Prime Minister's decision with "humility". He said he had resigned to honour the special court’s ruling, though he did not consider himself guilty.
Joshi had filed a criminal revision petition in the high court on Monday, challenging the special court's order. He sought a stay on the proceedings, claiming that his case was "at par" with that of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, whom the Rae Bareli court had discharged.
Justice Y.R. Tripathi of the high court's Lucknow bench, who heard Joshi's appeal, called for the case diary and other relevant court records against Joshi. The next hearing of the case was scheduled for November 4.
Joshi's counsel Mridul Rakesh said in Lucknow that although the court did not use the word “stay” in its order, the fact that it had in effect stayed the framing of charges against Joshi meant that proceedings in the special court would remain stalled till the disposal of the revision petition.
Soon after the order was passed, Joshi said: "The Allahabad High Court has stayed the Rae Bareli special court order which made me submit my resignation — to uphold the highest moral traditions. I believe and agree with the view that the demolition case is politically motivated and does not involve issues of criminal and moral turpitude."
Advani spoke to Joshi and congratulated him, while the party expressed happiness over the high court's decision. BJP chief Venkaiah Naidu said the party had always said no one needed to quit.
Joshi's supporters were in an upbeat mood. They said that contrary to reports, Vajpayee decided to reject the resignation without wider consultations.
PM’s changing order
If ministers are implicated in criminal cases, they can continue only if there is judicial relief
Had said in Parliament in 2000 that ministers need not quit even if charges were framed against them
Not clear what will happen in a case like Joshi’s: the question is will Joshi have to quit if high court vacates its stay