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CBI court frames ‘criminal conspiracy’ charges against Advani, Joshi and Uma in Babri Masjid case

The accused in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case, including senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, will face trial, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court ruled on Tuesday, rejecting their application to discharge criminal conspiracy charges filed against them.

The defence counsel had moved a “discharge application” in which the accused claimed not guilty in the December 1992 razing of the mosque in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya city.

Charges under section 120(b) of the Indian Penal Code have been framed against LK Advani and others. Section 120B stands for criminal conspiracy.

“Enough evidence on record against LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti and others for framing of the criminal conspiracy charge,” the CBI court said.

Earlier in the day, Advani, Joshi and Bharti were granted bail by the court on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each by CBI Special judge S K Yadav.

Bail was also granted to BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia and one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Ritambara, who also presented themselves before the court today.

On May 26, the BJP leaders were ordered to appear by the special CBI court. While directing the accused to present themselves in person, special CBI judge SK Yadav had asked had said no application for adjournment or exemption from personal appearance shall be entertained.

The court, which is hearing two cases relating to the demolition of the masjid, would also frame charges against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Satish Pradhan.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath greeted Advani, Joshi and others at the VVIP guest house before the hearing.

The Supreme Court had on April 19 ordered prosecution of Advani (89), Joshi (83), 58-year-old Uma Bharti, and other accused for criminal conspiracy in the politically sensitive case. It had also ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years.

The top court had called the destruction of the medieval-era monument a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution” while allowing the CBI’s plea seeking restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the four BJP leaders, including Vinay Katiyar (62), and others.

However, the Supreme Court had said BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who is the Rajasthan Governor and during whose tenure as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was razed, is entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he holds the gubernatorial office.

It had transferred the case against LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and three other accused from a Raebareli court to Lucknow for a joint trial in the demolition case.

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