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Published in the 16-31 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Move to encirle Joshi 
By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

Eleven years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on Dec 6, 1992 the demolition accused are yet to be tried, the filing of the conspiracy charge in FIR NO. 190/1992 was dropped by Central Bureau of Investigation on March 30, 2003 and subsequently on Sep 19, 200 3 Civil Judge of Junior Division, appointed judicial magistrate, Rae Bareli dropped the framing of charges against DPM LK Advani while ordering charges to be framed against MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Ashok Singhal, VH Dalmia, Sadhvi Rithambra, Vinay Katiyar and Giriraj Kishore.

MM Joshi approached the Allahabad High Court and on Sep 30, 2003 got a ‘stay’ on the order of Rae Bareli court to chargesheet him. Thereafter, five criminal revisions were filed by the remaining demolition accused and they too got the stay order.
BJP mandarins, who are accused, will however sit pretty until any issuance of notice to LK Advani is served and a delay in the trail of MM Joshi and others is carried on. The saffron echelons are buying time, as that would be in their best interests, because any hiccup before the elections are over would be a bad omen.

Perhaps every law abiding citizen was expecting that the CBI would challenge the dropping of charges against LK Advani, but, when the 90-day deadline approached, there was no movement whatsoever by CBI, hence, Muslims filed a criminal revision on Dec 7, 2003. This revision was filed by Haji Mehboob and Hafiz Siddiq. Another application by Mohd, Hashim Ansari was also filed on Dec 3, 2003 with a prayer to assist the prosecuting agency in framing charges against five-revisionists along with LK Advani against whom the charges had been dropped.

CBI did not file any affidavit challenging the Sep 19, 2003 order and on the contrary it sought four-weeks time to counter the revision petition filed by Haji Mehboob! The case in connection with Advani’s discharge was put -off until Feb 23, 2004 and Feb 24, 2004 was fixed for the other criminal revisions charges against the five persons. 

The criminal revision filed by Haji Mehboob and Hafiz Siddiq was listed in the court of Justice Syed Abdul Mateen on Feb 23. In that court Additional Solicitor General RN Trivedi, on behalf of CBI, made a request that the said revision be sent to the court of Justice YR Tripathi who was already seized of the matter of criminal revisions filed against the same order dated Sep 19, 2003 in which , MM Joshi and six others had been charged.

This prayer of RN Trivedi was opposed by the counsel of Haji Mehboob and Hafiz Siddiq, Zafaryab Jilani. Zafaryab Jilani opposed on the ground that the revisions listed before Justice YR Tripathi were directed against the order whereby the accused persons had been charged while the revision against LK Advani was directed against the order of discharge and as such the arguments in the two revisions were likely to be different from the arguments likely to be advanced in the revisions of MM Joshi and others. 

However, the Court was of the view that since the record of both the cases was common, it would be in the interest of justice that both the revisions be heard by the same court and since the revisions of MM Joshi and others were already partly-heard before Justice YR Tripathi, this revision may also be sent to the same court and accordingly the file of this criminal revision was sent to the court of Justice YR Tripathi and the same was taken up there at 3 pm on Feb 23.

Justice YR Tripathi enquired from the counsels of Haji Mehboob and CBI as to how much time was likely to be taken in the arguments of the said revisions. In reply to the said query of the Court, counsel for revisionists Zafaryab Jilani submitted that he may take only that much time which may be required to satisfy the Court about the prima facie for admission of the revision so that notice may be issued to LK Advani for the final hearing of the revision.

However, the CBI counsel said that at least three-hours was required for arguments. The counsel of Haji Mehboob suggested that the case be fixed in the first week of March while the counsel for CBI expressed his inability to appear in this case prior to March 19.As such the Court fixed March 12 as the next date of hearing.

Meanwhile, another step of equal importance was taken as another fresh application was submitted by Haji Mehboob (this time alone) in the registry of High Court, Lucknow and it was listed before Justice YR Tripathi along with five-revisions. These criminal revisions have been filed by MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Ashok Singhal Vinay Katiyar and VH Dalmia.

The Court permitted the applicant counsel to assist the Court on Feb 22 and the applications were ordered to be listed along with revisions, in which March 22 has been fixed for further hearing.

Haji Mehboob, it may be known is a resident of Ayodhya and his house was also burnt and destroyed at the hands of Karsevaks on Dec 6, 1992 who had demolished the Babri Masjid, at the instigation and abetment etc of the accused persons, some of whom were named in FIR Crime No. 198.1992 of Police Station Ramjanambhumi.

What makes Mehboob’s position to be in the thick of happenings is that he is also a party in the suits relating to Babri Masjid pending before the Special Full Bench, Lucknow and, his father was defendant of No. 6 in Regular Suit No. 26 of 1959 and after his death he and his brother have been substituted in place of their father. Mehboob has also appeared as a witness in the same suit pending before the Special Full Bench.

What made you file this application? " I am a directly interested person in the restoration of Babri Masjid and am very actively interested in getting the persons responsible for Babri Masjid demolition tried and punished in accordance with law of the land," he said while on a visit to Lucknow from Ayodhya in Faizabad district.

How do you view CBI role in this whole episode? "I was expecting that the CBI would act in a fair and impartial manner in pursuing the prosecution but the conduct of CBI in not filing any revision against the discharge order passed in favour of LK Advani on Sep 19, 2003 and the conduct of CBI in seeking time to file a counter-affidavit against revision filed by me against the discharge of LK Advani … and other similar facts and circumstances compelled me to believe that CBI is acting under pressure from Prime Minister and his DPM," he answered. 

"I apprehend that CBI may not seriously oppose the revision filed by the accused MM Joshi and others as the revisionist MM Joshi is also a very influential leader of BJP. I just want to intervene in the matter in order to assist the Court so that MM Joshi be charged and prosecuted in accordance with law," he said further.

"We will not just sit back and will leave no stone unturned until we see the accused in the demolition get their due," said Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for Mehboob.

The theatre has now been shifted to March as March 12 would see the arguments to issue a notice to LK Advani and March 22 would be for hearing the five criminal revisions filed by MM Joshi and others. Haji Mehboob’s application would also be taken on the same date.

BJP mandarins, who are accused, will however sit pretty until any issuance of notice to LK Advani is served and a delay in the trail of MM Joshi and others is carried on. The saffron echelons are buying time, as that would be in their best interests, because any hiccup before the elections are over would be a bad omen.

Let’s see what the CBI’s next step would be.

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