L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Kalyan Singh told to be in court
Lucknow: The verdict in the Babri Masjid demolition case will be delivered on September 30 by a special court here. BJP veterans L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who are among the accused in the case will be present in the court to hear the verdict.
The Babri Masjid was razed by a mob of Hindu fanatics in 1992 while a whole phalanx of BJP leaders including Advani, Joshi stood by. The case has been heard by a special court for 28 years.
Judge S K Yadav on Wednesday directed all 32 accused to remain present in the court on the day of the judgment.
The accused include former deputy prime minister L K Advani, former Union ministers M M Joshi and Uma Bharti, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambara.
The CBI court was working against the month-end deadline set by the Supreme Court for the verdict. The final arguments by the defence and the prosecution were heard by September 1, and then the judge began writing the verdict.
Some of the final submissions by the accused were made through video conferencing.
Issuing the order on Wednesday, the judge said the verdict will be pronounced on September 30 and asked all accused to be present in court.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the case, has produced 351 witnesses and about 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 16 died during the course of the trial.
The CBI argued that the accused conspired and instigated the kar sevaks to demolish the 16th century mosque.
But the accused pleaded that there is no evidence to prove their guilt and claimed they were falsely implicated in the case by the then Congress-led central government as political vendetta.
The mosque was pulled down on Decembe6, 1992 by mobs of kar sevaks who maintained that it was built during the time of the first Mughal ruler at the spot which marked the birthplace of Ram temple.
In a landmark judgment last year, the Supreme Court allotted the disputed site in Ayodhya for the construction of a Ram temple, while calling the demolition of the mosque a violation of the rule of law.
An alternative five-acre site has been found in the city for building a mosque.
Champat Rai, the general secretary of the trust in charge of constructing the temple, is among the 32 accused in the Babri mosque demolition case.
The earlier deadline set by the Supreme Court for the special CBI court to pronounce verdict was August-end. It was extended by a month on August 22.
On July 24, BJP veteran L K Advani recorded his statement before the court through video conferencing, denying any involvement in the conspiracy to demolish the mosque.
He pleaded that he was unnecessarily dragged in the case, claiming that the investigation was conducted under political pressure and the charge sheet was based on fabricated evidence.
Other BJP leaders also took similar pleas.
"The then Congress government at the Centre levelled false and baseless allegations against me and filed a case out of political animosity," Kalyan Singh told reporters after appearing before the court.
"As the UP chief minister, I and my government ensured adequate three-tier security for the disputed structure in Ayodhya," he claimed.
"I was falsely implicated, I am innocent," he had said.