Nov. 2: The Babri mosque ghost came back to haunt L.K. Advani within days of taking over as BJP president with a court in Uttar Pradesh issuing a notice to him.
More than three years after the CBI filed a petition, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court admitted the plea, the result of which is the serving of notices to Advani and several other party colleagues.
A single-judge bench of Justice M.A. Khan also issued notices to BJP leaders M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and Vinay Katiyar and 14 others, including Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Ashok Singhal.
In May 2001, the CBI had submitted a petition seeking review of the decision of Allahabad High Court quashing the trial of the accused on technical grounds.
Today's move came as a surprise because with a Rae Bareli special court formed to try the case quashing charges, it had been thought that Advani was free from the legal shadow cast by the demolition. The Rae Bareli court had let Uma off, too, but not the other accused.
With the admission of the CBI's petition, the case has been revived. Now Advani will have to defend himself in the high court and the case could go to the Supreme Court. The high court fixed December 16 for the next hearing.
Whatever the verdict ' ordering of fresh trial or rejection ' either side can be expected to go to the apex court.
Kalyan accused the Congress-led government at the Centre of indulging in vendetta. 'Prompted by vendetta, it has been trying to revive dead cases,' he said.
It is possible that Kalyan may not be aware that the CBI's revision petition was filed in 2001 when the BJP was in power in Delhi. The Rae Bareli court's acquittal of Advani ' a judgment that raised questions because most of the other accused were chosen to be tried ' had also come under BJP rule when Advani was the home minister and deputy Prime Minister.
If the high court orders retrial, the Rae Bareli verdict will become redundant. The special court set up there will have no role to play because trial will resume at a special court in Ayodhya.
In 2001, Allahabad High Court had rejected the case for trial of Advani and the other accused because of a mistake by the Uttar Pradesh government. After the demolition, two FIRs were filed ' one that did not name any accused and another that did.
The government issued notifications to set up a special court to try the case. But the notifications were on the first FIR. The high court, therefore, ruled that Advani and the others named in the second FIR could not be tried because of this technical flaw.