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Documents contest govt claim

New Delhi, July 24: Legal documents have cast a cloud on the government’s assertion that “there is absolutely no dropping of any charge by the CBI” against L.K. Advani in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The documents show that charges of criminal conspiracy under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code were filed in the first chargesheet of the CBI in 1993 which was subsequently taken cognisance of by a Lucknow court in 1997 through an order.

A supplementary chargesheet filed by the CBI on May 31, this year, against Advani and seven others makes no mention of the grave conspiracy charge but the government had tried to weather the storm in Parliament by insisting that no charge was omitted.

“There is no interference by the central government and there is absolutely no dropping of any charge by (the) CBI,” law minister Arun Jaitley had told reporters on Monday. On the same day, Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi had quoted Jaitley as saying in a letter that “the CBI had not diluted any case, dropped any charge against any accused person”.

Yesterday, Jaitley had said in the Rajya Sabha that the first chargesheet filed on February 27, 1993, never contained the conspiracy charge. But, as Jaitley himself told the House yesterday, that chargesheet was filed in a Rae Bareli court by the Uttar Pradesh criminal investigation department, not the CBI.

The CBI later took over the case which was transferred to the Lucknow court. It is here that the conspiracy charge was first raised. The government is now trying to draw a distinction between the CBI chargesheet and that of the CID but the Opposition has moved a privilege motion against Jaitley on this count, alleging that he had misled the House.

Both the CBI chargesheet, filed in October 1993, and the Lucknow court order mention that Section 120 B of IPC (criminal conspiracy) was applied against Advani, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti and several other leaders linked to the Sangh parivar.

The last paragraph on Page 30 of the CBI’s 1993 chargesheet states: “…in pursuance of the above criminal conspiracy, Sadhvi Rithambara, Moheshwar Save, Acharya Dharmendra Dev, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, V.H. Dalmia, Swamy Sakshi, Giriraj Kishore and Ashok Singhal, along with Balasaheb Thackeray, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai, Ramji Gupta, Ramesh Pratap Singh, Kalyan Singh actively contributed or incited the kar sevaks to promote (sic) communal harmony prejudicial to the national integration, incited one community against the other to injure the religious feelings of another community with the object to demolish the disputed structure”.

Taking cognisance of the chargesheet, Lucknow court judge Jagdish Prasad Srivastava said: “This conclusion is drawn that in the present case, the criminal conspiracy of felling down of the disputed structure of Ram Janam Bhoomi/ Babri Masjid was commenced by the accused from 1990 and it was completed on 6.12.92.”

“Sri Lal Krishna Advani and others at different times and at different places made schemes of criminal conspiracy of demolishing the above disputed structure,” Srivastava’s order reads.

The order was based on the composite chargesheet filed by the CBI in the court in October 1993. The chargesheet covered two important FIRs — 197 (relating to the Babri Masjid demolition) and 198 (making inflammatory speeches) — apart from 47 incidents relating to attack on media personalities.

The Lucknow court had said in its order that “so far as question of conspiracy under Section 120 B of (the) IPC is concerned, in that connection, it is not necessary to have proved evidence because a conspiracy is hatched in secrecy”.

The court had added that “the knowledge of this conspiracy comes to the remaining accused gradually, slowly and this knowledge is discernible from what becomes clear by their speeches and by actions done by them”.

This composite chargesheet was quashed by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on the technical ground that the Uttar Pradesh government notification establishing a special court was not issued.

However, after a petition was moved in the Supreme Court, the current Mayavati-led government established a trial court in Rae Bareli, where the CBI filed the revised chargesheet.

 

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