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Babri Masjid demolishers to go scot-free
By Zafarul-Islam Khan
|In a significant political decision, the BSP-BJP coalition government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) on September 17 decided that there was neither any “justification nor necessity” for issuing a fresh notification to constitute a special tribunal to try the Babri Masjid demolition case in which deputy prime minister and home minister LK Advani, human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi and sports minister Uma Bharati are among the accused.
Addressing a press conference in UP capital, Lucknow, state chief minister Ms Mayawati said her government has submitted its reply before the Supreme Court as per its direction. Mayawati said that no notification is necessary since there is already a special tribunal functioning at Rae Barielly and there is an ordinary court of law in Faizabad where the crime was committed.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is taking care of the case, can ask any of these two courts to take up the issue. In Mayawati’s view there was no justification for a second special tribunal at Lucknow to try some of the accused in the case. Incidentally the chief accused, LK Advani, is the political boss of the CBI at present since he is the central home minister.
The Chief Minister said that the CBI was free to proceed with the case in a competent court and her government had nothing to do with it. Mayawati added that she was against constituting a special court to try any important person, as, in her regime all were equal in the eyes of law.
“The ball is now in the CBI court. The CBI now has to take a decision in this regard”, Mayawati said, adding there was no need for a new notification in this matter.
Mayawati said that the government had taken the decision not to issue fresh notification after carefully going through all legal aspects of the case and obtaining the opinion of the law ministry.
No such fact, she said, had come to light after going through the Allahabad High Court's order quashing the earlier notification, which warranted issuance of a fresh notification.
Mayawati said that about 10 years had already lapsed since the demolition of the "disputed structure" and the case had been tried in different courts in the state without any decision and, therefore, at this stage her government did not deem it necessary to issue a fresh notification for the trial of Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti and others.
Passing the buck to the Congress, the chief minister said that the notification was issued during Congress rule without obtaining prior concurrence of the High Court and hence, it was quashed by the court.
The chief minister said that the CBI did not choose to challenge in the Supreme Court the Allahabad High Court's order quashing the notification.
The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had on February 12, 2001, quashed the notification by the state government constituting the special court to try the case in which Advani, Joshi, Bharati and some others are the accused, citing a technical defect but opined that the state government, if it so desired, could issue a fresh notification rectifying it.
The special CBI court at Lucknow trying the Ayodhya demolition case later dropped proceedings against the three federal ministers and some others in the light of the Allahabad High Court order.
Mayawati said that special courts were constituted for speedy disposal of cases, but in this case the decision was awaited even after 10 years. Mayawati said that the very purpose of constituting special court was defeated when the CBI filed a joint chargesheet clubbing case numbers 197/92 and 198/92 in the special CBI court in Lucknow.
After the case 198/92 was handed over to the CBI, it got both the cases transferred to a special CBI court in Lucknow for trial, thereby delaying the matter further, she pointed out.
The Allahabad High Court had quashed the notification issued by the then government by which it transferred the case 198/92 to the special court, she said. The chief minister said that her government was of the firm opinion that the accused in the case number 198/92 should be tried in connection with the charges.
Mayawati, accused “anti-social elements” for the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. She claimed that the BJP was not solely responsible for the Ayodhya imbroglio for which the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) were also equally responsible. She added that the BJP did take political advantage of the Ayodhya issue and stormed to power for the first time in UP after the incident, but maintained that the Congress and the SP had also tried to gain political mileage out of the incident. The chief minister alleged that the Congress and the SP were in the root of the Ayodhya dispute and the BJP entered the fray at a later stage.
In a related development, the UP state government yesterday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India submitting that there was no need for issuing a fresh notification for constituting a special court for trial of Ayodhya case in which Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and federal ministers M M Joshi and Uma Bharti are accused among several other persons.
The affidavit was filed following the Supreme Court’s direction seeking a reply from the state government on the issue by September 23. The apex court had sought UP Government's reply on the issue following a bunch of writ petitions challenging the Allahabad High Court order holding the constituting of the special court against the provision of law due to certain technical flaws in the notification issued earlier.
Congress Party today, September 18, termed the UP state government's decision not to issue fresh notification in the Ayodhya case as “deliberate subversion of the process of law” and said the federal ministers accused in it were “hiding behind technicalities” to escape punishment.
“It is a pity that senior ministers in the National Democratic Alliance government, including Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and his two colleagues Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati are hiding behind technicalities to escape punishment for serious crimes committed by them especially after the CBI has found it to be sound case for prosecution of the accused persons,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said in a statement.
Alleging Mayawati Government's decision tantamounted to disrespect of Supreme Court, he said it was gross violation of constitutional responsibility and a crude attempt to curry favour with persons in authority by letting them free. “This case is going on in court and after launching the prosecution almost a decade ago the state government cannot shirk its responsibility and compromise the principle of natural justice with political expediency,” he said.
The Congress spokesman said refusal to bring out notification to correct the technical infirmity to facilitate prosecution of the accused in the case was "negation of the very concept of law".
“It is believed that there was a tacit understanding at the time of formation of coalition government in UP that Mayawati would not issue a fresh notification though she herself demanding it when she was in opposition,” Sharma said.
The Babri demolishers will benefit whether the CBI decided not to press the case, or if it did by transferring it to an ordinary court of law in Faizabad, where the crime was committed, India's extremely slow-moving legal machine will ensure that the culprits will never be punished. q
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