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In a major development today, the Supreme Court has allowed the CBI to try eight BJP leaders including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid Demolition case.
A Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Nariman pronounced a unanimous verdict after roughly two weeks of reserving it.
The Court today directed that the trial of the leaders progressing in Rae Bareilly be transferred to Lucknow and charges of criminal criminal conspiracy be added. The Court also directed that the trial should proceed on a day to day basis and be completed within two years.
Regarding one of the leaders Kalyan Singh, who currently enjoys immunity by virtue of holding the post of Governor, the Court directed that charges against him should be framed after he demits the office.
The eight leaders were earlier being tried at Rae Bareilly for various offences under Sections 147, 153A r/w 149 and 153B of IPC. However, there was no charge of criminal conspiracy against them under Section 120-B. This would change with the judgment rendered by the Supreme Court today.
The Bench has directed that the Court of Sessions frame an additional charge under Section 120-B against L.K. Advani, Vinay Katiar, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, Murli Manohar Joshi and Vishnu Hari Dalmia
Additional Solicitor General Neeraj Kishan Kaul, who had appeared for the CBI in the matter, had argued that eight accused BJP leaders can still be made part of criminal conspiracy charges under Section 120-B and can be tried in Lucknow.
Senior Advocate KK Venugopal, who appeared for BJP leader L K Advani had argued against transferring the trial in Rae Bareilly to Lucknow arguing that it would amount to conducting the trial de Novo.
Read a comprehensive report of the case here.
Read the judgment below.