Wednesday, October 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Joshi’s resignation rejected
HC stays framing of charges
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 30
In view of the unity of the party ahead of the crucial Assembly elections, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today turned down the 11-day-old resignation of Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, soon after the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court stayed the framing of charges against Mr Joshi till November 4 in the Babri Masjid demolition case in the Rae Bareli court.

Dr Joshi’s subsequent withdrawal of his resignation from the Union Cabinet, submitted after the September 19 verdict of the Special Rae Bareli Court, ended the political drama which had sharply divided the BJP and had brought its President M Venkaiah Naidu under suspicion for playing a partisan role in the entire crisis.

While Dr Joshi told mediapersons that he never considered himself guilty of the December 6, 1992 demolition but had stepped down from his post to honour the court ruling, Mr Naidu said the party had been maintaining from the very beginning that there was no need for any leader to resign in the wake of the Special Rae Bareli Court verdict as the cases against them were “politically motivated”.

“It was a politically-motivated case and did not involve issues of criminal or moral turpitude,” Dr Joshi asserted.

The minister made it clear that in the wake of the Rae Bareli Court decision, he had tendered his resignation to uphold the highest moral traditions. “I accept with humility the decision of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee not to accept my letter of resignation from the Union Cabinet,” he said.

Asserting that the Ayodhya issue should be resolved at the earliest, Dr Joshi said the time was right for finding an amicable solution to the dispute. “Overwhelming public opinion favours that building a magnificent temple for Sri Ram at his birthplace would bring peace in the country, creating emotional bridges of happiness and brotherhood among all citizens.”

The Prime Minister took the decision to reject Dr Joshi’s resignation after the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court stayed the Special Court order this morning. Dr Joshi had filed a revision petition in the High Court yesterday.

Yesterday, Dr Joshi had met Mr Vajpayee who had been away on a 13-day foreign tour and explained to him the circumstances under which he had tendered his resignation.

The Prime Minister was understood to have consulted Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and the BJP President which had again brought the Ayodhya issue to centre-stage ahead of Assembly polls in five states later this year and the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the stay granted by the High Court on framing of charges on October 10 against Dr Joshi and said that it was a fit case for discharge.

BJP General Secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the party always maintained that the cases against Dr Joshi and other seven leaders were ‘politically motivated’ and there was no need for Dr Joshi to resign.

The High Court decision had ‘vindicated’ the BJP’s view on the Special Court order.

Earlier in the day, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court ordered a stay till November 4 on the proceedings in the case against Dr Joshi until final disposal of his revision petition in the matter.

Mr Justice Y.R. Tripathi set November 4 as the next date of hearing in the case and also ordered the CBI to produce its case diary on that date.

The Special CBI Court at Rae Bareli, on September 19, had ordered framing of charges on October 10 against seven accused in the case, including Dr Joshi, while exonerating Mr Advani.

The ground taken in the revision petition was that the approach of the trial court had been far from judicial when it applied Section 32 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) making its misuse against the applicant whose case stood at par with co-accused Deputy Prime Minister who had been discharged by the magistrate.

In his petition, Dr Joshi said the order passed by the Rae Bareli court be set aside and the proceedings of the case going on at the Special CBI Court there be stayed. The state of Uttar Pradesh had been made the opposite party in the petition.

The petition said the CBI Court had committed a judicial error in ignoring the total non-compliance of the mandatory provisions contained in Section 129 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The petition further said the court committed a judicial error in conveniently brushing aside the established legal position that none could be charged, tried or convicted for the offence punishable under Section 149 of the IPC in the absence of any substantive offence.

In Lucknow, VHP working president Ashok Singhal termed the stay of the High Court on framing of charges against Dr Joshi as a ‘respite’ for the Prime Minister.

Mr Singhal was also one of the accused in the case against whom the Special Court had ordered framing of charges. He said the other accused would also move the court for a stay soon.

Talking to mediapersons, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader indicated that all seven accused would ‘jointly toe the line’ adopted by Dr Joshi.

“When the trial court can leave Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani in the case then how can others be chargesheeted,” he observed.

He, however, maintained a person could be held guilty only if convicted.

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