Saturday, September 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Advani let off; Joshi to face charges
Charges to be framed against six others

Verdict at a glance

L.K. Advani

To be chargesheeted:
* Murli Manohar Joshi
* Uma Bharati
* Vinay Katiyar
* Ashok Singhal
* V.H. Dalmia
* Giriraj Kishore
* Sadvi Rithambhara

Rae Bareli/New Delhi, September 19
In a verdict that could have political repercussions, a special court in Rae Bareli today discharged Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, but decided to frame charges against Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and six others in the Babri Masjid demolition case, shortly after which Dr Joshi resigned from the Union Cabinet.

Pronouncing his 130-page order in a jampacked courtroom, Special Judge V.K. Singh said in the operative portion that accused L.K. Advani was being discharged from charges under Sections 147, 149, 153 (A), 153 (B) and 505 of the Indian Penal Code.

Amidst shouting of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans by VHP and Shiv Sena activists, he said charges would be framed against the other accused — Dr Joshi, BJP leaders Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, V.H. Dalmia, Acharya Giriraj Kishore and Sadhvi Rithambhara - under these five sections. These relate to rioting, unlawful assembly, promoting enmity between communities on grounds of religion, imputations prejudicial to national integration and public mischief.

He asked all seven to appear in the court personally on October 10, when charges would be framed.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he had mixed feelings since he had been personally exonerated, but charges were being framed against his colleagues. “It would have been a feeling of elation if all my colleagues had been exonerated, which did not happen,” he said.

As for himself, Mr Advani said there had been a systematic attempt to malign him in the Ayodhya case and his critics had termed the Ayodhya movement as communal.

In his order, the Judge cancelled the personal bond of Mr Advani and discharged him from the responsibilities of his sureties.

While counsel for all accused Mridul Rakesh said he would talk to his clients on whether to go in appeal against the court order, CBI counsel R.K. Saini said the agency would examine the judgement before deciding whether to appeal against the discharge of Mr Advani.

This case was transferred to the Rae Bareli court in February this year under a Supreme Court order in November last, allowing the CBI to take the case there after the then Chief Minister Mayawati filed an affidavit in the apex court. — PTI

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