Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 | Last Update : 06:12 PM IST
The way things are permitted to run in this country, it will be a surprise if any follow-up action is taken.
There can be no gainsaying that the Supreme Court is making a belated attempt to uphold the majesty of the law in the Babri Masjid demolition case of 1992. But the court’s sharp observation on Monday that the dropping of charges of “conspiracy” against senior BJP leader and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani and several others in the Babri matter was faulty, takes us back nearly two generations, and underscores the meaninglessness of the concept of justice — which is pockmarked with inordinate delays — that prevails in the country.
In case we had forgotten, and perhaps the present generation of Indians had never heard of it, the trial court in Rae Bareli has been exerting itself in the Babri demolition case for a quarter century. Perhaps it is nowhere near even figuring out the primary contours of the matter — which was a subject of common knowledge when the disgraceful demolition of the mosque, referred to in official documents as the “disputed structure” — took place.
To recall briefly, two separate “crimes” were examined by the legal system — the actual demolition of the disputed structure by lakhs of kar sevaks (Hindu volunteers brought to Ayodhya by Hindutva outfits), and the virulent speeches by Mr Advani and other firebrand leaders of the BJP and kindred extremist organisations as the demolition was in progress.
In the latter case, the CBI subsequently introduced the charge of “conspiracy”. The lower court held that the addition was made without the permission of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court. Mr Advani and others were freed on this charge, benefiting as a “technicality” had not been observed. The high court upheld this.
It is this distortion that the Supreme Court bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Nariman have sought to correct. In short, the high court is being pulled up for being swayed by a technicality, brought to its notice by the trial court.
Will judicial strictures follow and action taken? This is anybody’s guess. But the way things are permitted to run in this country, it will be a surprise if any follow-up action is taken. Remember, we are talking about a matter that is as good as being in the archives.
When the Supreme Court said that the two separate cases running for the two crimes be conducted as one, with the “conspiracy” charge reintroduced, the counsel for Mr Advani said that all the 186 witnesses will then have to be examined afresh.
The next hearing in this extraordinary turn of events is March 22, but the first intimations of a long series of delays are already discernible. We’ll know better after the next hearing how the Supreme Court deals with this matter.