Babri Masjid demolition case: LK Advani, MM Joshi, 30 others acquitted by special court
A special CBI court in Lucknow on Wednesday pronounced the final verdict in the much-awaited Babri Masjid demolition case, acquitting all 32 accused including senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, and Kalyan Singh. CBI judge Surendra Kumar Yadav also announced that the Babri mosque demolition was not pre-planned. In the 10-minutes hearing, the judge ruled that the CBI had not been able to establish charges against the accused, adding that the video evidence were tempered with and was not admissible in the case.
“There’s not enough evidence against the accused,” said the Special CBI court while pronouncing the verdict.
The Special Court had, earlier this month, directed all 32 accused including BJP veterans LK Advani, Uma Bharti, Murli Manohar Joshi, and then UP CM Kalyan Singh to remain present in the court on the day of the hearing. However, LK Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh were not present in the court citing health concerns, but joined the hearing via video link. 26 other accused in the case were present in the court for the final verdict.
A multi-layer security apparatus was installed around the Old High Court building in Lucknow by the UP government ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict.
On August 22, the Supreme Court had set September 30 as the deadline for completing the case and announcing the final judgment. Final arguments of the defence and prosecution in the case were made on September 1, following which Special Judge SK Yadav began writing the verdict. More than 530 witnesses and 600 documents were presented by the CBI before the special court during the final submissions. Initial charges were framed against 48 people, however, 16 of the accused have died during the course of the trial that has spanned for 28 years.
What is the Babri Masjid Demolition case?
The case pertains to the demolition of Babri Masjid, located in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, on December 6, 1992, by karsevaks who believed that the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram. Demolition of the Babri Masjid triggered massive communal riots across various parts of the country, killing around 1,800 people, according to government data.
After the December 6 demolition of the Babri Masjid, two separate cases were filed at Ram Janmabhoomi police station in Faizabad. While the first case (number 197/92) was filed against unknown karsevaks, the second one (number 198/92)) was filed against eight people including senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, and four members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad. The first FIR (197) against karsevaks was handed to the Crime Branch’s CBI, while the second FIR (198) against BJP and VHP leaders was given to the CID for investigation. Around 47 more FIRs were filed related to the attacks on media persons on the day of the demolition of the mosque.
Ayodhya Title suit
In a related case, the Supreme Court, in November 2019, had announced the verdict of the Ayodhya title suit in favour of the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi temple at the disputed site. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone in the sanctum sanctorum for Ram Janambhoomi in Ayodhya on August 5, following which the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust initiated the construction of the historic temple.