Supreme Court revives criminal conspiracy charge
The Supreme Court invoked the maxim — ‘Let justice be done though the heavens fall’ —and exercised its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142 to order a joint trial of the dual Babri Masjid demolition cases and revive criminal conspiracy charges against BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders, including L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti, in connection with the demolition of the 16th century mosque on December 6, 1992.

The court transferred the Rae Bareli case, languishing in a magistrate court, to the CBI court in Lucknow for a joint trial.

Daily hearing ordered
It ordered the Lucknow CBI judge to hold day-to-day trial and pronounce the judgment in two years. It forbade the transfer of the judge and also adjournments. Any grievances, the Bench said, should directly be addressed to the Supreme Court. Its directions have to be complied with in letter and in spirit, the court cautioned.

Rae Bareli case
The Rae Bareli case accuses the BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders of having given speeches which promoted enmity and threatened national integration.

Composite charge sheet
The Lucknow case, investigated by the CBI, is against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” and deals with the actual act of demolition and violence. With the clubbing of the cases and revival of the conspiracy charges, the accused political leaders would be tried under the composite charge sheet filed by the CBI on October 5, 1993. The Bench agreed with the CBI charge sheet’s finding in 1993 that both the criminal conspiracy by the political leaders and the actual demolition of the 16th century mosque by kar sevaks were part of the “same transaction” and warranted a joint trial.

Under Section 216 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC), a court has wide powers to alter or add any charge in any case at any time before judgment is pronounced. If convicted, the accused persons would face punishment of three to five years.


(Adapted from The Hindu)