New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought an explanation from the Centre for the delay in filing appeal against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The apex court also pulled up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for delay in challenging Allahabad High Court's ruling which upheld the dropping of conspiracy charges against Advani and others in the case. The SC has asked the CBI to give explanation for the delay before April 16.
A bench headed by Justice HL Dattu directed that an affidavit be filed within two weeks by a senior law officer of the central government after noting that the delay of 167 days was caused because of a law officer. In compliance with the apex court's earlier order, CBI placed before the bench the case details in which it submitted that the delay was caused as the drafting of the appeal against the Allahabad High Court verdict was pending before Additional Solicitor General and Solicitor General for their approval and opinion.
"The delay was on the part of Solicitor General. So affidavit from the concerned person would facilitate us to understand the delay," the bench said. "In your interest it is better if an affidavit is filed," the court said, granting two weeks time to CBI to get the affidavit filed by the senior law officer.
The bench, however, in its order did not mention the officer who would be filing the affidavit and said it should be filed by a senior law officer. The apex court was hearing CBI's appeal challenging the verdicts of a special CBI court and the Allahabad High Court dropping conspiracy charge against Advani, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Murli Manohar Joshi.
The others against whom the charge was dropped included Satish Pradhan, C R Bansal, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Sadhvi Ritambhara, VH Dalmia, Mahant Avaidhynath, RV Vedanti, Param Hans Ram Chandra Das, Jagdish Muni Maharaj, BL Sharma, Nritya Gopal Das, Dharam Das, Satish Nagar and Moreshwar Save.
The conspiracy charges against Advani were dropped when the NDA government was in power. In 2011, the CBI had moved the apex court challenging the May 21, 2010 order of the Allahabad High Court judgement. The CBI had taken more than 90 days, which was the time allotted to it to file an appeal against the HC order.
The May 2010 order of the High Court had said there was no merit in the CBI's revision petition against the May 4, 2001 order of the special court, which directed dropping of criminal conspiracy charges against them. There are two sets of cases - one against Advani and others who were on the dais at Ram Katha Kunj in Ayodhya in December 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, while the other case was against lakhs of unknown 'karsevaks' who were in and around the disputed structure.
The CBI had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under sections 153A IPC (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace).
But it subsequently invoked charges under Section 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy), which were quashed by the Special Court whose decision was upheld by the High Court. While upholding the special court's order, the High Court had said the CBI, at no point of time, either during the trial at Rai Bareli or in its revision petition, ever stated that there was offence of criminal conspiracy against the leaders.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)