The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre defends CBI in Babri demolition case

New Delhi, July 21: The Centre threw the rule book at the Opposition after it paralysed Parliament on the first day of the monsoon session, demanding a discussion on the CBI’s alleged dropping of conspiracy charges against deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and seven other Sangh parivar leaders in the Babri case.

Making a special appearance at the BJP’s daily briefing today, law minister Arun Jaitley said there was no dilution or deletion of charges against Advani and the others in the mosque demolition case.

He said it was “unprecedented” for Parliament to debate on what charges needed to be framed. “It is the court which has to decide this. It is not for Parliament to decide.... It not only negates the rule of law but negates basic parliamentary procedure.” The issue was sub-judice and could not be debated in Parliament, he added.

“It seems the Opposition moved the (adjournment) motion without going through all the facts.” The minister said the Opposition demand was based on “sham and non-existent grounds” after it tried “preventing government from replying”.

Jaitley said the Congress had a “record” of withdrawing cases against some of its leaders when it was in power. “In 1980, it happened in a big way,” he said, without elaborating.

Jaitley criticised the Opposition move to seek the adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha and forcing adjournment of the House. The premise behind the move was “factually incorrect”, he said.

“There is no interference by the Central government and there is absolutely no dropping of any charge by the CBI,” Jaitley said.

Jaitley referred to the 1993 chargesheet against Advani and seven others in a Rae Bareli court which, he said, did not mention a conspiracy charge under Section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.

He sought to know from the Congress why the charge was not added in February 1993 when the Congress, led by P.V. Narasimha Rao, was in power at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh was under President’s Rule.

The CBI, he emphasised, functioned independently and had this May revived the original chargesheet of February 27, 1993, in which Advani and the others were not charged with conspiracy.

The law minister said the chargesheet was transferred and merged with a Lucknow case involving 41 other accused without the permission of Allahabad High Court.

The court had ruled in February 2001 that the merger was “void and bad in law” and sent the chargesheet back to the Rae Bareli court.

BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra, who addressed the press along with Jaitley, accused the Opposition of misleading the House. The day’s events in the Lok Sabha had led to “wastage” of nearly Rs 2.5 crore spent on Parliament’s daily functioning, he said.

The others accused in the case along with Advani were Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Sadhvi Rithambara, Vinay Katiyar, Ashok Singhal, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Acharya Giriraj Kishore.

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