New Delhi, March 28: The Supreme Court today issued notices to Union ministers L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and other Sangh parivar leaders on a petition challenging the change of venue of their trial in the Babri demolition case from Lucknow to Rae Bareli.
A three-judge bench of Justices S. Rajendra Babu, K.G. Balakrishnan and Arun Kumar issued the notices on a petition by Mohammad Aslam alias Bhure, who sought a review of the Supreme Court’s November 29 order allowing the trial to begin in the designated court in Rae Bareli.
The court was constituted following a state government notification to try Advani, Joshi, their former Cabinet colleague Uma Bharti and 31 others.
The demolition case, which is a criminal case, is separate from the civil trials on the acquired 67.703 acres and the disputed 2.77 acres.
The civil cases are being tried in the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.
The accused facing trial in the demolition case are: Advani, Joshi, Bharti alias Garja Singh (as the name is given in the criminal review petition), Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Vinay Katiyar, former Delhi BJP MP Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem, VHP leaders Ashok Singhal, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Sadhvi Ritambara, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Mahant Avaidyanath and others.
In his petition, Bhure has said the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to issue a notification designating a court in Rae Bareli and removing the jurisdiction of the designated court in Lucknow was politically motivated. Bhure contended that the “sudden” notification has put the clock back and the cases would now “go to square one”.
The Supreme Court, in its November 2002 order, had said all cases should be tried at Rae Bareli since the state government had already issued a notification.
A controversy had erupted after Allahabad High Court quashed a notification of the Uttar Pradesh government in October 1993 on the ground that there was a “technical mistake”.
With the new notification of the Mayavati government, the cases of hundreds of kar sevaks also accused of the demolition would continue in Lucknow while the cases of the high-profile politicians and VHP leaders would be tried in Rae Bareli.
This, Bhure contended, had resulted in the cases against the politicians being taken up afresh although the witnesses were the same as in the case of the kar sevaks.
The politicians and VHP leaders got the advantage of further delay in trial as compared to the kar sevaks, Bhure said, pointing out that equality before law and equal application of law was a Fundamental Right.