Justice Rohinton Nariman, who had criticised the dropping of criminal conspiracy charges against 13 BJP and other right-wing leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case, will not be part of the bench that will hear the matter on Wednesday.
On March 6, Justice Nariman and Justice PC Ghose were part of a bench that heard CBI’s appeal challenging the Allahabad High Court’s decision to uphold the trial court discharge order favouring likes of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh. Justice Ghose headed the bench.
Justice Nariman had made strong remarks against the trial court for dropping the conspiracy charges on technical ground. “People cannot be discharged like this,” he had said at the commencement of the proceedings. Justice Ghose had echoed a similar view.
“There is something very peculiar going on in this case. We prima facie do not approve of the way these people have been discharged,” the bench had remarked. It hinted reviving the conspiracy charges and said the trial court in Lucknow would be directed to hold a joint trial. “We will allow the CBI to file a supplementary chargesheet by including the conspiracy charges.”
The court’s suggestion was opposed by senior advocate KK Venugopal, who appeared on behalf of the lawyers. He raised a technical argument against the CBI appeal and pleaded it was belated.
The criminal cases in the Babri Masjid case stemmed from two crime files – 197 and 198. Both were filed shortly after the disputed structure was demolished. The CBI, however, filed a combined chargesheet in the case. FIR number 197 was registered against lakhs of unknown kar sevaks and dealt with the actual demolition of the structure.
The second FIR registered against 12 people, including Ashok Singhal, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Uma Bharti , who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj when the masjid was being demolished. They are accused of promoting enmity, making imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration.