The post-demolition trail

Print edition : December 25, 2000

THE demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 led to two major inquiries: the Special Court of Inquiry instituted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice M.S. Liberhan. The proceeding s related to these in the past seven years have presented a clear case of legal filibustering. Here is an account, in the chronological order:

December 9, 1992: The Special Court of Inquiry is set up by the Crime Branch of the Uttar Pradesh Police. Crime No. 197, in which lakhs of kar sevaks accused of the demolition, and Crime No. 198, in which leaders such as L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati are the accused, are the important cases taken up by the Crime Branch. A December 8, 1992 order said that the court would function from Mata-ki-Tilla near Agra, where the main accused were lodged after their arrest on December 7 and 8.

December 12: Crime No. 197 is handed over to the CBI even as the other cases remain with the Crime Branch.

February 27, 1993: The Crime Branch files the first set of charge-sheets, which include the names of L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, before a Special Judicial Magistrate.

August 26: The Crime Branch hands over Crime No. 198 also to the CBI, and a fresh investigation is initiated in a case for which charge-sheets have been filed.

September 10: The Special Court of Inquiry shifts from Mata-ki-Tilla to Rae Bareli citing operational advantages.

September 15: The Special Court of Inquiry is shifted once again, from Rae Bareli to Lucknow; the cited reason is again operational advantages.

October 5: The CBI files a comprehensive charge-sheet in the demolition case.

August 27, 1994: More than eight months after the charge-sheet is filed, a Sessions Judge is committed to the Special Court.

September 1: Three days after committing the Sessions Judge, the CBI comes up with the request to conduct further investigation in a case where it has already filed a charge-sheet.

October 7: The CBI's application is rejected by the Sessions Judge.

October 10: The CBI files a revision petition repeating the request for further investigation.

October 22: The petition is upheld.

January 1, 1996: A Fresh charge-sheet is filed by the CBI against nine other accused, including Vijayaraje Scindia, Ramachandra Paramahans and so on.

September 9, 1997: The Special Court orders the framing of charges against the 49 accused.

September 10: Counsel for the 33 accused file a revision petition against the order to frame charges.

October 24: The petitions are upheld and a stay order is issued with regard to four accused.

(Since October 1997, the court has fixed as many as 24 dates to hear the case, but each time the accused refused to appear before it. The next date for hearing is December 22.)

Judicial Commission of Inquiry

The Justice Liberhan Commission was notified to be set up on December 16, 1992. It was stipulated that the Commission complete the inquiry in six months. However, the hearings began only in March 1993. Since then the Commission has called 12 witnesses of its own and 39 witnesses for the defence. It has had approximately 30 hearings, and also 13 extensions. The current term of the Commission ends on December 31, and by all indications it will get another extension.

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