New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi along with Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray and 18 others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The notice was issued on a CBI petition seeking prosecution of 21 BJP and saffron leaders on the charges of criminal conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid.
The CBI had moved the apex court challenging the High Court's May 20, 2010 order, dismissing the CBI plea for revival of criminal conspiracy charges against 21 BJP and saffron leaders, which also included Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vinay Katiyar, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Sadhvi Rithambara and Mahant Avaidya Nath.
The other leaders were former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh.
The investigating agency approached the Supreme Court against the order of a Rae Bareli court which resulted in criminal conspiracy charges being dropped against Advani and others.
Challenging the High Court order, the CBI had said in its petition that "it appears an artificial distinction was made by the trial court attempting to assign a role in respect of each of the accused persons and to see which offences were made out. The trial court erroneously came to the conclusion that 21 persons were not entitled to be tried in the case (pertaining to the demolition on December 6, 1992).
The May 2010 order of the High Court had said there was no merit in the CBI's revision petition challenging 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.
Upholding the 2001 order of the special CBI court, the High Court had said, "Nothing is found against the correctness, legality, propriety or regularity in respect of any of the findings of the lower court."
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).
The judge had also said that 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, as was being submitted now.
(With additional information from PTI)