Saturday, May 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Charges dropped in Ayodhya case
Reprieve for Advani, Joshi, Uma

Lucknow, May 4
In a new twist to the Ayodhya demolition case, a special CBI court today dropped proceedings against three Union Ministers L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti and 18 others till the “legal defect” in the notification constituting the court was rectified.

Special Judge Srikant Shukla held that the trial against the eight accused, including the three ministers and 13 others, brought within the ambit of this case could not be proceeded on the basis of the consolidated chargesheet filed by the CBI which was already quashed by the Allahabad High Court earlier.

The High Court had cited a legal defect in the government notification constituting the Special Court to try the case when it quashed the notification.

Besides the three ministers, others against whom the proceedings were dropped include Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Giriraj Kishore.

Reacting to the judgement, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh said his government would do “whatever is lawful” and denied that it was trying to protect “anyone”.

“We will go by whatever is lawful. What I said two months ago is still relevant,” Singh told reporters in Delhi.

Bringing 13 other accused within the ambit of Crime No 198 of 1992, the Special Court said there were two alternatives before him to try the case after the judgement of the High Court early this year.

The first, the Judge said, was to keep the matter pending till the rectification of the defect pointed out by the High Court and the second to drop proceedings against the eight accused while continuing proceedings against the remaining 13 accused.

The court found it proper to follow the second alternative, he said in his order.

However, the judge ordered that another 26 remaining accused should appear before the court on June 8 for framing of charges under Section 282 (2) of the Cr.Pc.

These 26 included the then Faizabad District Magistrate R.N. Srivastava and SSP D.B. Rai.

Others among the 21 against whom proceedings stood dropped by today’s order included BJP MP Vinay Katiyar, VHP General Secretary Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, former BJP MP Mahant Avaidyanath, president of the Ram Janambhoomi Trust Paramhans Ram Chandra Das and Sadhvi Ritambhara.

The special court observed that 13 other accused, including Mr Kalyan Singh and Mr Bal Thackeray, though not specifically mentioned in the case crime number 198 of 1992, were also covered by the recent high court judgement.

The court rejected the plea of Srivastava and Rai that they too were covered by the high court judgement.

It said the two officials were aware of the implications of the destruction of the disputed structure and had deliberately not deployed sufficient number of security personnel to protect it.

The Special Judge said he had made an attempt to separate the joint charge-sheet filed by the CBI taking cognisance of case crime numbers 197 and 198 of 1992.

He observed that the trial against the eight accused persons, including the three union ministers, mentioned in the case crime number 198 of 1992, could not be proceeded on the basis of the consolidated charge-sheet filed by the CBI.

The CBI had argued that the names of all 47 accused figured in the investigation carried out by the agency on the basis of one of the two FIRs, which remained unaffected by the recent high court judgement.

The defence counsels had pleaded that the CBI’s argument was not tenable as the two FIRs (crime number 197 and 198) were registered at the Ram Janambhoomi police station after the offences.

CBI counsel P.K. Chaubey told mediapersons “we are studying the judgement and our options are open.” On being asked about the rectification of the defect in the notification by the state government, Mr Chaubey said “we are nobody to dictate to the state government. Its their prerogative.”

The Allahabad High Court had, in its recent judgement, quashed the case crime number 198 of 1992, in which the three union ministers along with five others were specifically mentioned, citing a legal defect in the government notification for constituting a special court to try the case.

It had observed that the notification was defective as a prior sanction of the court was not obtained before constituting the special court to try the case.

The high court had, however, said the defect was curable and the state government, if it so desired, could issue a fresh notification. PTI 


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