New Delhi: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani, Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.
Ordering that the hearings in the case would now be held in a Lucknow court on a day-to-day basis, the apex court added that the trial has to be completed in two years.
The apex court said there would be joint trial of two separate cases against Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti and unknown 'karsevaks' in Lucknow.
The top court also said that the trial judge hearing the case would not be transferred until the judgement was delivered, and that there would be no adjournment.
SC directed CBI to ensure that some prosecution witnesses appear in trial court for recording of testimony.
Others who will face criminal conspiracy charges are Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal and the late Giriraj Kishore, the SC ruled.
The Supreme Court in its ruling on Wednesday however, excluded Kalyan Singh, who was Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at the time of the demolition. It said that no case would be filed against him as long as he remained the Rajasthan Governor, because he enjoyed constitutional immunity in that position.
Stating that its order should be followed ‘in letter and spirit’, the Supreme Court granted parties to the case the liberty to approach it if its orders were not followed.
The apex court issued the order while hearing a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging withdrawal of charges against Advani and other top BJP leaders in the case.
"We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgement with certain directions," a bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman said.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had disagreed with the CBI about filing criminal conspiracy charges against the BJP veterans, which meant that the leaders' case continued to be heard in Rae Bareli.