Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020

In the timeline we cover the first shilanyas, the first foiled attempt to demolish Babri and the latest in the case.

Updated28 Jul 2020, 10:59 AM IST
Explainers
11 min read

With the deadline to complete trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case nearing and the inauguration of the Ram Temple scheduled for 5 August, The Quint brings you a detailed timeline of the criminal case that continues to be fought in court.

While the Ayodhya title dispute was settled by the Supreme Court in November 2019, the criminal case against BJP, RSS, VHP leaders and karsevaks for demolishing the mosque on 6 December 1992 is in its final stages of trial in a special Lucknow court.

We track the case, right from 1528 to 2020, including the first shilanyas (laying the foundation stone) ceremony held under PM Rajiv Gandhi’s government, the demolition of 6 December 1992 and the course the court case took between thelower courts, Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

We have divided this nearly three decade timeline across five cards as well.

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020

  1. 1. The Rise of The Hindutva Movement

    Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
    (Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

    1528 : CONSTRUCTION OF BABRI MASJID

    The Babri Masjid, a mosque in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya was constructed by Mughal emperor Babur’s general Mir Baqi who was, according to several records, following the orders of his emperor. The Hindus said that this mosque was built on the foundations of what they considered to be a temple, built to commemorate the birthplace of Lord Ram.

    1949 : LORD RAM IDOLS PLACED INSIDE BABRI MASJID

    In December 1949, idols of Lord Ram 'appeared', or were 'placed' inside the mosque. This led to widespread protests which led to cases being filed by both sides. Hashim Ansari filed a case for the Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara filed one for the Hindus in the following years. The government declared the site disputed and locked it up. The chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das, would file what would eventually be the ‘winning’ suit in the title dispute in 1989.

    1984 : VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD IN FOCUS

    The Vishwa Hindu Parishad forms a group to continue the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, in which BJP leader LK Advani is made the leader and face of the campaign for the construction of a grand ‘Ram Mandir’ at the site.

    1986 : HINDUS ALLOWED TO PRAY

    The district judge in Faizabad orders for the gates of the disputed structure to open so that Hindus can enter and pray.

    Expand
  2. 2. First Shilanyas and Demolition of Babri

    Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
    (Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

    1989 : RAJIV GANDHI AND SHILANYAS 1.0

    Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi allows the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to conduct a ceremony, called the Shilanyas (consecration). This happened in November 1989, when the Hindutva movement was growing at an unprecedented pace and just days before the commencement of the parliamentary elections.

    1990 : THE FIRST ATTEMPT OF THE BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION FOILED

    BJP President LK Advani conducts a rath yatra across the country in a bid to garner support from the people to build a Ram Temple at the disputed site. This was also the year when VHP volunteers partially damaged the Babri Masjid. Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister of UP with a Janata Dal government was at the centre.

    On 30 October 1990, Yadav ordered the police to open fire at the Hindutva mob who were marching towards Babri Masjid, which led to the death of 16 karsevaks, according to the government.

    1992 : BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION

    The disputed structure is brought down by karsevaks and a makeshift temple is put in place on 6 December. Two FIRs were registered on the same day. First was crime number 197/1992 and the second 198/1992.

    TWO FIRs REGISTERED

    FIR 197 was filed against the thousands of unnamed kar sewaks alleging offences of dacoity, robbery, causing hurt, injuring/defiling places of public worship, promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion, etc.

    FIR 198 was lodged against eight persons belonging to the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and the RSS for giving hateful speeches from the Ram Katha Kunj Sabha Manch. The eight named accused were LK Advani, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, Murli Manohar Joshi, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia. Of these eight, Ashok Singhal and Giriraj Kishore have passed away. The FIR alleges offences under Sections 153-A, 153-B and Section 505 IPC.

    LIBERHAN COMMISSION APPOINTED

    On 16 December, 10 days after the demolition, a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court, MS Liberhan, is appointed to submit a report on the sequence of events that led to the demolition. In a Home Ministry notification, the government said the commission had to submit its report in not later than 3 months. However with 48 extensions and with over Rs 8 crore spent on the commission, the report was only submitted over a decade and a half later. More on that in year 2009.

    Expand
  3. 3. The Beginning: Trial Starts and Criminal Conspiracy Charge Added

    Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
    (Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

    1993 : TRIAL MOVED TO LALITPUR, AND THEN TO RAE BAREILY

    A special court is set up in Lalitpur to adjudicate the cases. However later a notification was issued by the state government, in consultation with the Allahabad High Court, to move the trial of these cases from a special court in Lalitpur to a special court in Lucknow.

    While FIR 197 was assigned to the CBI and moved to Lucknow, FIR 198 was to be tried in a special court in Rae Bareli and was to be investigated by the state CID.

    Also important to mention here is that before the case was transferred, Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC was added to FIR 197.

    1993 : CBI FILES THEIR CHARGE SHEET IN THE CASE

    A month later, on 5 October 1993 the CBI files a consolidated charge sheet, including for FIR 198, as the two cases were intrinsically related. More accused persons were named in this chargesheet, including Bala Saheb Thackeray, Kalyan Singh, Champat Rai Bansal, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and others.

    The conspiracy angle presented by the CBI spoke of a secret meeting at the residence of Bajrang Dal leader Vinay Katiyar one day before the masjid was pulled down, “wherein a final decision to demolish the disputed structure was taken.” In this meeting, according to the charge sheet, Advani and the seven other leaders were present.

    In the same charge sheet, when it came to the angle of conspiracy, it read: "The acts of Bala Saheb Thackeray, LK Advani, Kalyan Singh, Ashok Singhal (General Secretary, VHP) Vinay Katiyar, (MP Bajrang Dal), Uma Bharati, Shri Murli Manohar Joshi, Ex-President and others constitutes offences U/s 120-B IPC r/w 153-A, 153-B, 295, 295-A and 505 IPC and substantive offences U/s 153-A, 153-B, 295, 295-A and 505 IPC."

    1993 : FIR 198 AND FIR 197 TO BE TRIED TOGETHER

    On 8 October 1993, the UP government issues a new notification for transfer of the cases, clubbing FIR 198 against the original eight leaders, with the rest of the cases. This was supposed to mean that all the cases relating to the demolition of the Babri Masjid would be tried by the special court in Lucknow.

    1996 : LUCKNOW COURT CALLS FOR CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY TO BE ADDED IN ALL CASES

    A supplementary charge sheet is filed by the CBI, based on which the court observes that there was prima facie evidence to frame charges of criminal conspiracy against the leaders, including LK Advani. The court held that all the offences were committed in the course of the same transaction which warranted a joint trial and that the case was exclusively triable by the Court of the Special Judge at Lucknow. The Special Judge in Lucknow passes an order stating that there was a prima facie case against all accused persons for framing charges of criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B read with various other Sections of the IPC.

    The order read: "From the above discussion this conclusion is drawn that in the present case the criminal conspiracy of felling down of the disputed structure of Ram Janam Bhumi/Babri Masjid was commenced by the accused from 1990 and it was completed on 06.12.1992 Sri Lal Krishan Advani and others at different times and at different places made schemes of criminal conspiracy of demolishing the above disputed structure."

    Expand
  4. 4. The Middle Years: Caught Between Lower Court and High Court

    Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
    (Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

    2001 : CITING GOVT LAPSE, ACCUSED CHALLENGE COURT ORDER AND WIN

    The above order is challenged by the accused in the Allahabad High Court (before its Lucknow bench). The lawyers of the accused were able to successfully argue that the charges against them were wrongly framed due to an administrative lapse by the Uttar Pradesh government.

    The lapse we are talking about here relates to the notification from 8 October 1993 which said FIR number 198 was to be tried with all the 49 cases in this special Lucknow court. However, when issuing the notification, the UP government had failed to follow the required procedure.

    They were supposed to have clubbed the FIRs after consultation with the High Court, but failed to do so. The state government subsequently rejected a request from the CBI for curing this defect in the notification, and instead of challenging this rejection and making sure the defect was resolved, the CBI carried on as if there was no problem, and filed their supplementary charge sheet against the eight accused.

    This lapse was then used by Advani and others to have the conspiracy charges dropped against them, as this had only been put into the charges heet with regard to FIR 197. The high court said that both FIRs were to be tried separately, with FIR 198 at a special court in Rae Bareilly. As the cases were now separate, the high court directed the CBI to file any evidence they had of conspiracy against Advani et al in a supplementary charge sheet in the Rae Bareilly court.

    2003 : CBI FILES CHARGE SHEET, JUDGE DISCHARGES ADVANI

    In 2003, the CBI files a supplementary charge against the eight accused under FIR 198. However, they were unable to get the conspiracy to destroy the Babri Masjid added as a charge, as the FIRs treated the demolition (FIR 197) and the speeches which instigated it (FIR 198) as separate. The Rae Bareli court in fact accepted an application by Advani and discharged him as an accused, saying there was not enough of a case against him for him to stand trial.

    2005 : ALLAHABAD HC STEPS IN, RESTARTS TRIAL WITHOUT CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY

    The Allahabad High Court sets aside this Raebareli court order in 2005 and said that Advani and the others were to continue to stand trial. The case progressed, but without the charges of criminal conspiracy. In 2005 the Rae Bareilly court framed charges in the case, and the first witness testified before it in 2007.

    2009 : LIBERHAN COMMISSION SUBMITS REPORT

    17 years after it was first formed, the Liberhan Commission submits its over 900 page report. In the report, that was later made public, the commission did not mince words in placing blame on the Sangh Parivar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and prominent politicians of the BJP like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and others, for their role in the sequence of events that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

    • “Cadres of the RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP, BJP and Shiv Sena along with their leaders were present of at the spot. They either actively or passively supported the demolition.”
    • “It cannot be assumed even for a moment that (BJP patriarch) L.K. Advani, A.B. Vajpayee or (veteran BJP leader) Murli Manohar Joshi did not know the designs of the Sangh Parivar.”
    • “The BJP was therefore an essential ingredient in the Parivar smorgasbord and essential to capture de jure power and authority, in furtherance of its goal of establishing a Hindu Rashtra.”

    2010 : ALLAHABAD HC UPHOLDS LOWER COURT ORDER THAT SEPARATED THE TWO CASES

    A revision petition is filed by the CBI in the Allahabad High Court against its order dated 4 May 2001, which had held that the two sets of cases under FIR 197 and FIR 198 needed to be tried separately.

    The high court, however, upheld its previous judgment, reaffirming that there were two classes of accused, namely, leaders who were on the dais exhorting the Kar Sewaks at 200 meters from the Masjid, and the Kar Sewaks themselves. It also reconfirmed that criminal conspiracy charges could not be added in the FIR 198 case against Advani et al.

    Expand
  5. 5. The Concluding Years : The Supreme Court’s Final Say

    Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
    (Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

    2012 : CBI APPROACHES SC

    After this long sequence of delays, derailments, and other legal hurdles in the trial courts and high court, the CBI finally approached the Supreme Court in 2011 and subsequently filed an affidavit on 20 March 2012, in which it made a renewed argument for a common trial of all the cases.

    2015: SC ISSUES NOTICE TO SENIOR BJP LEADRS

    The Supreme Court issued notice to senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani, Uma Bharati, Murli Manohar Joshi and Kalyan Singh, to respond to the CBI's plea to not drop charges of criminal conspiracy against them in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

    2017 : SC RULES AGAINST ALLAHABAD HC, INVOKES CONSPIRACY CHARGES AND CLUBS ALL CASES

    Ending this deadlock once and for all, the apex court ruled against the Allahabad High Court's decision to separate the cases and to drop the conspiracy charges against the accused under FIR 198.

    In an extremely significant judgment, the SC ordered the invocation of conspiracy charges against several accused including LK Advani and 20 others. The trial of all cases were now clubbed and brought back together to the Lucknow court.

    THE CHARGES FOR THE FINAL TRIAL

    Now since FIR 197 and 198 are combined with the added sections of Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), all accused are charged with the following:

    • Section 147, IPC – Rioting.
    • Section 149, IPC – Unlawful assembly.
    • Section 153A, IPC – Promoting hate and enmity on the grounds of religion.
    • Section 153B, IPC – Assertions prejudicial to national integration. Section 295, IPC – Destruction of a place of worship.
    • Section 505, IPC – Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.
    • Section 120B, IPC – Criminal conspiracy.
    • Section 336, IPC - Stone pelting.

    There are 32 accused who are alive in this case as of now.

    Taking note of the delays in the case and the need for the trial to be concluded, the Supreme Court noted that:

    “This court has the power, nay, the duty to do complete justice in a case when found necessary. In the present case, crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution... have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago.”

    DEADLINES FOR THE TRIAL

    Another key aspect of the Supreme Court's decision was that it specified a timeline for the trial to be completed. First the court gave it a two year deadline, which was supposed to end in April 2019. In July 2019, the SC extended the tenure of the judge on the case and extended the deadline by nine months. These nine months ended in April 2020. Most recently, in May 2020, the deadline was again extended again to 31 August 2020.

    The Quint has been informed by the lawyers on the case that there is an expectation that this deadline will have to be extended again, given the steps still left, including summoning of further witnesses by the accused.

    THE SUPREME COURT’S 2019 JUDGMENT ON THE TITLE DISPUTE

    While the landmark apex court decision of 9 November 2019 put the Ayodhya title dispute to rest by ordering the land to be handed over to the Hindus, and the setting up of a trust to construct the temple there, the five-judge bench had this to say about the demolition of the Babri Masjid:

    “The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law.”

    This judgment does not in itself affect the criminal trial as it was a separate civil matter, but is nonetheless the first formal judicial pronouncement about the illegality of the demolition itself.

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    Expand

The Rise of The Hindutva Movement

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
(Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

1528 : CONSTRUCTION OF BABRI MASJID

The Babri Masjid, a mosque in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya was constructed by Mughal emperor Babur’s general Mir Baqi who was, according to several records, following the orders of his emperor. The Hindus said that this mosque was built on the foundations of what they considered to be a temple, built to commemorate the birthplace of Lord Ram.

1949 : LORD RAM IDOLS PLACED INSIDE BABRI MASJID

In December 1949, idols of Lord Ram 'appeared', or were 'placed' inside the mosque. This led to widespread protests which led to cases being filed by both sides. Hashim Ansari filed a case for the Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara filed one for the Hindus in the following years. The government declared the site disputed and locked it up. The chief of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das, would file what would eventually be the ‘winning’ suit in the title dispute in 1989.

1984 : VISHWA HINDU PARISHAD IN FOCUS

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad forms a group to continue the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, in which BJP leader LK Advani is made the leader and face of the campaign for the construction of a grand ‘Ram Mandir’ at the site.

1986 : HINDUS ALLOWED TO PRAY

The district judge in Faizabad orders for the gates of the disputed structure to open so that Hindus can enter and pray.

First Shilanyas and Demolition of Babri

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
(Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

1989 : RAJIV GANDHI AND SHILANYAS 1.0

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi allows the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to conduct a ceremony, called the Shilanyas (consecration). This happened in November 1989, when the Hindutva movement was growing at an unprecedented pace and just days before the commencement of the parliamentary elections.

1990 : THE FIRST ATTEMPT OF THE BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION FOILED

BJP President LK Advani conducts a rath yatra across the country in a bid to garner support from the people to build a Ram Temple at the disputed site. This was also the year when VHP volunteers partially damaged the Babri Masjid. Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister of UP with a Janata Dal government was at the centre.

On 30 October 1990, Yadav ordered the police to open fire at the Hindutva mob who were marching towards Babri Masjid, which led to the death of 16 karsevaks, according to the government.

1992 : BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION

The disputed structure is brought down by karsevaks and a makeshift temple is put in place on 6 December. Two FIRs were registered on the same day. First was crime number 197/1992 and the second 198/1992.

TWO FIRs REGISTERED

FIR 197 was filed against the thousands of unnamed kar sewaks alleging offences of dacoity, robbery, causing hurt, injuring/defiling places of public worship, promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion, etc.

FIR 198 was lodged against eight persons belonging to the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and the RSS for giving hateful speeches from the Ram Katha Kunj Sabha Manch. The eight named accused were LK Advani, Ashok Singhal, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharati, Sadhvi Ritambara, Murli Manohar Joshi, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia. Of these eight, Ashok Singhal and Giriraj Kishore have passed away. The FIR alleges offences under Sections 153-A, 153-B and Section 505 IPC.

LIBERHAN COMMISSION APPOINTED

On 16 December, 10 days after the demolition, a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court, MS Liberhan, is appointed to submit a report on the sequence of events that led to the demolition. In a Home Ministry notification, the government said the commission had to submit its report in not later than 3 months. However with 48 extensions and with over Rs 8 crore spent on the commission, the report was only submitted over a decade and a half later. More on that in year 2009.

The Beginning: Trial Starts and Criminal Conspiracy Charge Added

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
(Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

1993 : TRIAL MOVED TO LALITPUR, AND THEN TO RAE BAREILY

A special court is set up in Lalitpur to adjudicate the cases. However later a notification was issued by the state government, in consultation with the Allahabad High Court, to move the trial of these cases from a special court in Lalitpur to a special court in Lucknow.

While FIR 197 was assigned to the CBI and moved to Lucknow, FIR 198 was to be tried in a special court in Rae Bareli and was to be investigated by the state CID.

Also important to mention here is that before the case was transferred, Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC was added to FIR 197.

1993 : CBI FILES THEIR CHARGE SHEET IN THE CASE

A month later, on 5 October 1993 the CBI files a consolidated charge sheet, including for FIR 198, as the two cases were intrinsically related. More accused persons were named in this chargesheet, including Bala Saheb Thackeray, Kalyan Singh, Champat Rai Bansal, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and others.

The conspiracy angle presented by the CBI spoke of a secret meeting at the residence of Bajrang Dal leader Vinay Katiyar one day before the masjid was pulled down, “wherein a final decision to demolish the disputed structure was taken.” In this meeting, according to the charge sheet, Advani and the seven other leaders were present.

In the same charge sheet, when it came to the angle of conspiracy, it read: "The acts of Bala Saheb Thackeray, LK Advani, Kalyan Singh, Ashok Singhal (General Secretary, VHP) Vinay Katiyar, (MP Bajrang Dal), Uma Bharati, Shri Murli Manohar Joshi, Ex-President and others constitutes offences U/s 120-B IPC r/w 153-A, 153-B, 295, 295-A and 505 IPC and substantive offences U/s 153-A, 153-B, 295, 295-A and 505 IPC."

1993 : FIR 198 AND FIR 197 TO BE TRIED TOGETHER

On 8 October 1993, the UP government issues a new notification for transfer of the cases, clubbing FIR 198 against the original eight leaders, with the rest of the cases. This was supposed to mean that all the cases relating to the demolition of the Babri Masjid would be tried by the special court in Lucknow.

1996 : LUCKNOW COURT CALLS FOR CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY TO BE ADDED IN ALL CASES

A supplementary charge sheet is filed by the CBI, based on which the court observes that there was prima facie evidence to frame charges of criminal conspiracy against the leaders, including LK Advani. The court held that all the offences were committed in the course of the same transaction which warranted a joint trial and that the case was exclusively triable by the Court of the Special Judge at Lucknow. The Special Judge in Lucknow passes an order stating that there was a prima facie case against all accused persons for framing charges of criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B read with various other Sections of the IPC.

The order read: "From the above discussion this conclusion is drawn that in the present case the criminal conspiracy of felling down of the disputed structure of Ram Janam Bhumi/Babri Masjid was commenced by the accused from 1990 and it was completed on 06.12.1992 Sri Lal Krishan Advani and others at different times and at different places made schemes of criminal conspiracy of demolishing the above disputed structure."

The Middle Years: Caught Between Lower Court and High Court

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
(Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

2001 : CITING GOVT LAPSE, ACCUSED CHALLENGE COURT ORDER AND WIN

The above order is challenged by the accused in the Allahabad High Court (before its Lucknow bench). The lawyers of the accused were able to successfully argue that the charges against them were wrongly framed due to an administrative lapse by the Uttar Pradesh government.

The lapse we are talking about here relates to the notification from 8 October 1993 which said FIR number 198 was to be tried with all the 49 cases in this special Lucknow court. However, when issuing the notification, the UP government had failed to follow the required procedure.

They were supposed to have clubbed the FIRs after consultation with the High Court, but failed to do so. The state government subsequently rejected a request from the CBI for curing this defect in the notification, and instead of challenging this rejection and making sure the defect was resolved, the CBI carried on as if there was no problem, and filed their supplementary charge sheet against the eight accused.

This lapse was then used by Advani and others to have the conspiracy charges dropped against them, as this had only been put into the charges heet with regard to FIR 197. The high court said that both FIRs were to be tried separately, with FIR 198 at a special court in Rae Bareilly. As the cases were now separate, the high court directed the CBI to file any evidence they had of conspiracy against Advani et al in a supplementary charge sheet in the Rae Bareilly court.

2003 : CBI FILES CHARGE SHEET, JUDGE DISCHARGES ADVANI

In 2003, the CBI files a supplementary charge against the eight accused under FIR 198. However, they were unable to get the conspiracy to destroy the Babri Masjid added as a charge, as the FIRs treated the demolition (FIR 197) and the speeches which instigated it (FIR 198) as separate. The Rae Bareli court in fact accepted an application by Advani and discharged him as an accused, saying there was not enough of a case against him for him to stand trial.

2005 : ALLAHABAD HC STEPS IN, RESTARTS TRIAL WITHOUT CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY

The Allahabad High Court sets aside this Raebareli court order in 2005 and said that Advani and the others were to continue to stand trial. The case progressed, but without the charges of criminal conspiracy. In 2005 the Rae Bareilly court framed charges in the case, and the first witness testified before it in 2007.

2009 : LIBERHAN COMMISSION SUBMITS REPORT

17 years after it was first formed, the Liberhan Commission submits its over 900 page report. In the report, that was later made public, the commission did not mince words in placing blame on the Sangh Parivar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and prominent politicians of the BJP like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh and others, for their role in the sequence of events that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

  • “Cadres of the RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP, BJP and Shiv Sena along with their leaders were present of at the spot. They either actively or passively supported the demolition.”
  • “It cannot be assumed even for a moment that (BJP patriarch) L.K. Advani, A.B. Vajpayee or (veteran BJP leader) Murli Manohar Joshi did not know the designs of the Sangh Parivar.”
  • “The BJP was therefore an essential ingredient in the Parivar smorgasbord and essential to capture de jure power and authority, in furtherance of its goal of establishing a Hindu Rashtra.”

2010 : ALLAHABAD HC UPHOLDS LOWER COURT ORDER THAT SEPARATED THE TWO CASES

A revision petition is filed by the CBI in the Allahabad High Court against its order dated 4 May 2001, which had held that the two sets of cases under FIR 197 and FIR 198 needed to be tried separately.

The high court, however, upheld its previous judgment, reaffirming that there were two classes of accused, namely, leaders who were on the dais exhorting the Kar Sewaks at 200 meters from the Masjid, and the Kar Sewaks themselves. It also reconfirmed that criminal conspiracy charges could not be added in the FIR 198 case against Advani et al.

The Concluding Years : The Supreme Court’s Final Say

Babri Masjid Demolition Case: A Timeline From 1528 to 2020
(Infographic: Erum Gour/The Quint)

2012 : CBI APPROACHES SC

After this long sequence of delays, derailments, and other legal hurdles in the trial courts and high court, the CBI finally approached the Supreme Court in 2011 and subsequently filed an affidavit on 20 March 2012, in which it made a renewed argument for a common trial of all the cases.

2015: SC ISSUES NOTICE TO SENIOR BJP LEADRS

The Supreme Court issued notice to senior BJP leaders, including LK Advani, Uma Bharati, Murli Manohar Joshi and Kalyan Singh, to respond to the CBI's plea to not drop charges of criminal conspiracy against them in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

2017 : SC RULES AGAINST ALLAHABAD HC, INVOKES CONSPIRACY CHARGES AND CLUBS ALL CASES

Ending this deadlock once and for all, the apex court ruled against the Allahabad High Court's decision to separate the cases and to drop the conspiracy charges against the accused under FIR 198.

In an extremely significant judgment, the SC ordered the invocation of conspiracy charges against several accused including LK Advani and 20 others. The trial of all cases were now clubbed and brought back together to the Lucknow court.

THE CHARGES FOR THE FINAL TRIAL

Now since FIR 197 and 198 are combined with the added sections of Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), all accused are charged with the following:

  • Section 147, IPC – Rioting.
  • Section 149, IPC – Unlawful assembly.
  • Section 153A, IPC – Promoting hate and enmity on the grounds of religion.
  • Section 153B, IPC – Assertions prejudicial to national integration. Section 295, IPC – Destruction of a place of worship.
  • Section 505, IPC – Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.
  • Section 120B, IPC – Criminal conspiracy.
  • Section 336, IPC - Stone pelting.

There are 32 accused who are alive in this case as of now.

Taking note of the delays in the case and the need for the trial to be concluded, the Supreme Court noted that:

“This court has the power, nay, the duty to do complete justice in a case when found necessary. In the present case, crimes which shake the secular fabric of the Constitution... have allegedly been committed almost 25 years ago.”

DEADLINES FOR THE TRIAL

Another key aspect of the Supreme Court's decision was that it specified a timeline for the trial to be completed. First the court gave it a two year deadline, which was supposed to end in April 2019. In July 2019, the SC extended the tenure of the judge on the case and extended the deadline by nine months. These nine months ended in April 2020. Most recently, in May 2020, the deadline was again extended again to 31 August 2020.

The Quint has been informed by the lawyers on the case that there is an expectation that this deadline will have to be extended again, given the steps still left, including summoning of further witnesses by the accused.

THE SUPREME COURT’S 2019 JUDGMENT ON THE TITLE DISPUTE

While the landmark apex court decision of 9 November 2019 put the Ayodhya title dispute to rest by ordering the land to be handed over to the Hindus, and the setting up of a trust to construct the temple there, the five-judge bench had this to say about the demolition of the Babri Masjid:

“The destruction of the mosque took place in breach of the order of status quo and an assurance given to this Court. The destruction of the mosque and the obliteration of the Islamic structure was an egregious violation of the rule of law.”

This judgment does not in itself affect the criminal trial as it was a separate civil matter, but is nonetheless the first formal judicial pronouncement about the illegality of the demolition itself.

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Published: 27 Jul 2020, 02:22 PM IST
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