The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani case in Atal’s court

Lucknow, Sept. 17: Mayavati has done her bit. Now it is up to Atal Bihari Vajpayee to decide whether the CBI should proceed against his deputy or not.

The Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s decision against filing fresh chargesheets in the Ayodhya demolition case has put the CBI in an awkward situation.

With Mayavati washing her hands of the case, the CBI, which reports to the Prime Minister’s Office, will now have to proceed on its own and justify whatever route it follows.

While quashing the notification for creation of a special court for trial of Advani and eight others last year, Allahabad High Court had said that after rectifying the technical defects, the state government could issue a fresh notification.

But in the same judgment, the court added: “We are of the view that the CBI shall be at liberty to take up appropriate steps to proceed with the matter in accordance with the law.”

Legal experts pointed out that the court has left enough room for the CBI to move on its own. If the agency does not do so now, it is certain to ignite a political uproar.

“Mayavati may have saved her government by appearing to bail out the BJP leaders. But she cannot hinder their trial indefinitely,” said Zafaryab Jilani, lawyer and leader of the Babri Masjid Action Committee.

Virtually passing the onus on to the Centre, Mayavati today said: “This does not mean that the accused leaders will now escape trial. It merely means that they will be tried in a court other than the one where the earlier notification was quashed on technical error.”

The CBI has to decide whether or not to file chargesheets against Advani and others in any of the three special courts in Rae Bareli, Faizabad and Lucknow, which are already dealing with cases related to Ayodhya.

Legal experts feel that the CBI could chargesheet the BJP leaders in any of the existing courts without waiting for a fresh notification.

Legal activist Mushtaq Ahmad said the Supreme Court could ask the CBI why it had not filed the chargesheet against Advani and others in the other competent courts and direct it to do so. “It can also order clubbing of all Ayodhya demolition cases,” Ahmad added.

The Uttar Pradesh government had issued a notification in 1993 to exclude BJP and VHP leaders from some of the Ayodhya cases. Another notification was issued later to create a special court for the CBI cases against them. This notification was struck down by Allahabad High Court in 2001.

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