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Now, another week for Advani temple verdict

Lucknow, Sept. 12: The special court hearing the Ayodhya demolition case against deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and some top BJP and VHP leaders will pronounce its order on framing of charges against them on September 19.

The court had earlier reserved judgment after hearing arguments and said it would pronounce its order on September 12 as it had to go through relevant documents and written arguments submitted by the counsels.

Advani, Union human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP leaders Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Giriraj Kishore and Sadhvi Ritambhara were charged by the CBI in a Rae Bareli court for making incendiary speeches and inciting passion that led to the demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992.

Though the accused were granted exemption from appearance in court today, a large number of VHP and BJP activists were there.

“If the court had held that the CBI had not been able to furnish enough evidence to substantiate charges, it would have ended a chapter in the history of the Ayodhya demolition trials,” said VHP activist Sharad Sharma.

A decision to frame charges, on the other hand, would have made the presence of the accused in court necessary and resulted in the resumption of the sessions trial, which has been dragging on in different courts for over a decade.

The CBI had filed supplementary chargesheets against the accused in the Rae Bareli court on May 31 after starting trial afresh this February following a Supreme Court directive.

The joint trial of Advani and the saffron leaders with the kar sevaks accused of demolishing the mosque in the special court here was disrupted two years ago when Allahabad High Court held that the Lucknow court was not competent to try Advani and the leaders involved in case 198. It could only continue trial against the kar sevaks, accused in case 197, the high court said.

In the past six months, the apex court has twice rejected petitions that had sought the transfer of all Babri demolition cases to Lucknow.

On Monday, the apex court refused to stay proceedings in the Rae Bareli court. The petitioner, Aslam, alias Bhure, had alleged that conspiracy charges in the demolition had been dropped against the eight senior leaders while ordinary kar sevaks were still facing the charge.

This is not the first time that the charges against those accused in the Babri Masjid case are being discussed. In 1997, a special CBI court in Lucknow had ordered that the charges be looked into but since then the case did not proceed.

Earlier this year, on May 31, the CBI framed chargesheets at the special Rae Bareli court against those accused in the demolition case for inciting the kar sevaks in Ayodhya.

The lawyers for the accused had argued that the CBI had no concrete proof. It could not produce any video or audio evidence of any speech made by the accused except one by Sadhvi Ritambhara, they said.

In 1993, chargesheets were issued against 49 people for criminal conspiracy.

The BJP had termed the chargesheet politically motivated. “The party (BJP) has always maintained that the names of the senior leaders were included because of political reasons,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said today.

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