Babri demolition case: LK Advani, 31 others acquitted; no local testified
Hindustan Times, Lucknow :
The special CBI court in Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all 32 accused, including former deputy prime minister LK Advani, former union minister Murli Manohar Joshi, ex-Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti, in the Babri Masjid demolition case due to lack of conclusive evidence.
Ruling out the criminal conspiracy theory, the court held that the demolition on December 6, 1992 was a spontaneous act and not pre-planned.
Ending a nearly 28-year wait in less than 28 minutes, judge SK Yadav delivered the verdict around 12.15am. He held that the prosecution (CBI) could not establish the role of the 32 accused (now acquitted) with regard to the evidence (points) it had submitted in court during the proceedings. The verdict came nearly 11 months after the Supreme Court, in November last year, paved the way for building a Ram temple at the very site in Ayodhya where the masjid once stood.
It observed that none of the locals of Ayodhya testified against any of the accused to prove that they incited the mob.
"The CBI court has acquitted all the 32 accused in the Babri Masjid case. This ends the long pending dispute related to the December 6, 1992 case," confirmed lawyer KK Mishra, who represented 25 accused in the court, including Advani, Joshi and Kalyan Singh, who was the UP chief minister at the time of the demolition.
"The court observed that the December 6, 1992 incident wasn't planned and that it was a spontaneous act," the lawyer said.
The judge did not admit the videos produced by the CBI as they were not certified (tested) in the forensic laboratory to ascertain their authenticity.
Photographs submitted were also not accepted as the agency could not produce the original negatives, another defence lawyer Manish Tripathi said.
Of the total 49 accused in the case, 17 had died. Twenty-six of the remaining 32 accused arrived in person at the court when the judge delivered the verdict. Advani was present via video link.
There were intelligence reports, the court said, at the time indicating that some anti-social elements might indulge in some unwarranted act.
It said that witness (number 9) Anju Gupta had given a statement in court that some 'dacoits and criminals' also mingled with the crowd of kar sevaks. Anju Gupta was additional superintendent of police, posted in Ayodhya during the time the incident took place.
The court observed that at noon on December 6, 1992 in Ayodhya, everything was fine. Then, some anti-social elements started brick-batting from behind the structure (Babri Masjid), it said.
It also pointed out that Ashok Singhal (late VHP leader) was appealing to kar sevaks not to indulge in violence and only carry out kar seva as per guidelines of the Supreme Court.
The judge who pronounced the verdict was on a year's extension and his extended term ended today.
A ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of Ram temple was held on August 5 and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Supreme Court had in November, while maintaining that the demolition was a 'criminal act', ordered that an alternative land be provided to the Sunni Waqf Board for a mosque within Ayodhya.
The CBI will decide on filing an appeal against the special court verdict acquitting all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case after consulting the legal department, its counsel said on Wednesday.
"After a copy of today's verdict is received, it would be sent to the CBI headquarters where it would be studied by the legal department and a decision on filing an appeal would be taken as per its suggestion," CBI counsel Lalit Singh said.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the court verdict, terming it as Satyamev Jayate (victory of truth), according to a statement issued by his advisor Mritunjay Kumar.
Adityanath also spoke with BJP veterans LK Advani and MM Joshi over phone and congratulated them on the verdict.
Reacting to the court's verdict, Iqbal Ansari, a prominent litigant in the Ayodhya title suit case, said: "The entire world saw what happened in Ayodhya (on December 6, 1992). I respect the court's verdict."
Ansari had issued an appeal to the CBI court earlier this month, requesting to close the case and acquit all 32 accused in larger interest of the nation and Hindu-Muslim unity.
"We abided by the SC verdict in November last year and we would abide by the latest decision again. There is no question of opposing it. Ayodhya wants peace," Ansari said.
Mohsin Raza, a minister in the UP government, welcomed the verdict. In an interview to HT on July 30, former chief minister Kalyan Singh, whose government was dismissed after the December 6, 1992 demolition, had said that he was proud of the fact that he refused to allow firing on kar sevaks (religious volunteers) who had gathered in Ayodhya.
"I am proud of the fact that I didn't allow firing. I also feel that it was the demolition that paved the way for the Ram temple," Kalyan had said. An accused in the demolition, Kalyan, infected with the coronavirus, couldn't make it to the court.