What has Supreme Court ordered?
The Supreme Court has revived the charge of criminal conspiracy against senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and others, a small but significant change in the nature of the prosecution in a case that relates to the speeches they made, which allegedly incited the karsevaks to pull down the mosque.
By ordering a joint trial into two cases arising out of the Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992, and demanding that the trial court in Lucknow hear the matter on a day-to-day basis, the court has reinforced the importance of reaching a speedy judicial resolution in a matter that has already been horribly delayed.
Why was trial delayed?
It was a mere technicality that resulted in the case relating to the actual act of demolition by numberless karsevaks being tried in a special court in Lucknow and another relating to BJP political leaders being tried in Rae Bareli on the charge of inciting ill-will and hatred.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s failure to cure a technical defect in an earlier notification, and the failure of the CBI to challenge it at the relevant time, led to the situation of separate proceedings continuing for years.
It is regrettable that a case relating to the promotion of communal disharmony, one that had a bearing on riots and reprisals in the following months, was mired in judicial stagnation and administrative apathy for a quarter century.
Implications for BJP
1. In political terms, this is an embarrassment for the BJP. It has always maintained that the Ayodhya case against its leaders was essentially political in nature.
2. As for Mr. Advani, this draws a curtain on his long political career; if it is true that he nursed ambitions about becoming the country’s next President, this almost certainly puts an end to that dream.
3. But more than Mr. Advani and Mr. Joshi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have cause to worry about how to deal with the continuance of Ms. Bharti as a Union Minister.
Given that the party had demanded the resignation of charge-sheeted ministers in the previous government, it will now face the uncomfortable predicament of one of its own facing a criminal trial.
(Adapted from The Indian Express)