Lucknow, July 19: The CBI has dropped the charge of criminal conspiracy against deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
In what is being seen as a dilution, the supplementary chargesheet filed in a Rae Bareli court on May 31 against Advani and seven others does not mention the conspiracy charge. A joint chargesheet, filed in a Lucknow court in September 1997, had charged all the Babri accused with criminal conspiracy.
CBI officials admitted that the joint chargesheet against Advani and seven others in case 198 and the kar sevaks in case 197 had included the conspiracy charge. “But the investigating agency did not find any evidence against the accused in case 198 to justify the charge of criminal conspiracy,” an official claimed.
The supplementary charge-sheet now charges the eight, including M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Vishnu Hari Dalmia, only with spreading communal frenzy, rioting and creating ill-will between communities.
The omission has baffled legal experts. “Once the charge of criminal conspiracy to demolish the mosque is dropped, very little remains in the case,” said a senior advocate, adding that it would now be much easier for the accused to obtain bail.
The Rae Bareli court, where the CBI completed its arguments yesterday, will hear the defence counsel on July 31 before deciding if a prima facie case for trial by a sessions court exists.