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SC gives Mulayam Advani headache

New Delhi, Sept. 1: The Supreme Court today refused to stay the Rae Bareli trial against L.K. Advani but took up a petition which challenged the CBI’s action of “dropping” conspiracy charges against the deputy Prime Minister in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The court has issued notices to several respondents, including the CBI and the government of Uttar Pradesh, where Mulayam Singh Yadav assumed power only last week.

The Congress, which is keeping Mulayam Singh on tenterhooks over sharing power, tightened the screws as soon as it was known that the court did not dismiss the conspiracy charge petition.

“No decision has been taken to join the Samajwadi Party-led government. We will certainly be discussing the issue when the state government finalises its response to the Supreme Court notice,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

The Rae Bareli court has been hearing the case against Advani and a few others since May 30 after the CBI filed a fresh chargesheet.

A controversy had erupted when the Opposition alleged that the Indian Penal Code’s Section 120 b, which relates to criminal conspiracy, was dropped to dilute the charges against the accused.

Today’s court notices were issued on a petition by lawyers Wajahat Ansari and C.M. Shukla who contended that the CBI had acted “under political pressure” and dropped the conspiracy charge.

They said the trial should have proceeded on the basis of the composite chargesheet filed by the CBI in 1993 which had the conspiracy charge.

But, the petitioners said, taking advantage of an apex court ruling in 2002 which permitted the trial to proceed in the Rae Bareli court, the CBI had submitted a truncated chargesheet.

The two lawyers alleged that the public prosecutor, who was pleading the case since 1993, was “suddenly” replaced by an advocate who assisted a Union minister in legal practice.

The judges issued notices on this petition but did not entertain another filed by Mohammad Aslam alias Bhure until “offensive portions” were deleted. Bhure, the spearhead of several pleas linked to the Ayodhya dispute, had filed a petition contesting the transfer of the case from Lucknow to Rae Bareli.

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