Babri demolition case: Advani, Joshi charged with criminal conspiracy
Lucknow : Top BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Minister Uma Bharti were on Tuesday arraigned in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case by a special CBI court in New Delhi which ordered framing of charges invoking criminal conspiracy provision against them.
A last-minute bid by the three leaders and nine other accused to get discharged from the case was foiled when the court rejected their plea in this regard.
All the accused were earlier given bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each.
High drama marked proceedings in court, with BJP workers shouting "Jai Shri Ram" slogans outside and hailing the leaders.
Ahead of the proceedings, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called on Advani and Joshi and was closeted with them for over 20 minutes. He was later seen animatedly discussing some issues with the lawyers present in court.
Special judge S.K. Yadav observed that there was enough evidence against the leaders that required framing of conspiracy charge against them. The conspiracy charge has been added against the leaders, who also face offences under various sections, including 153 (A) of the IPC (promoting religious divide).
The court will be holding hearing on the matter on Wednesday.
The proceedings in the CBI court gathered momentum after the Supreme Court on April 19 revived the conspiracy charges and shifted their case from the Rae Bareli court to Lucknow along with other accused who had been booked for the actual demolition of Babri Masjid.
Counsel for Advani, K.K. Sharma said they will appeal against the judgement in the High Court (HC).
Saying he was not part of any conspiracy, Advani's lawyer pointed to some mistakes in the charge sheet.
Special judge Yadav earlier dismissed the discharge applications moved by the accused and ruled that framing of charges against them will go on.
Other accused who appeared in the court were Sadhvi Ritambhara, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Vinay Katiyar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Vishnu Hari Dalmia.
Charges against six others accused in the matter - Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Baikunth Lal Sharma, Dharm Das, Champat Rai Bansal and Shiv Sena's Satish Pradhan, who were granted bail, were also framed.
Last week, counsel of the accused had moved a plea in the court to exempt Advani, Joshi and Bharti from personal appearance, but it was turned down.
All the accused are facing charges of conspiring to bring down the mosque.
The Supreme Court directed the special CBI court in Lucknow to hold daily hearings on the 25-year-old matter and wrap it up within two years.