A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Lucknow, presided by special judge Surendra Kumar Yadav, on Wednesday, 30 September, acquitted all the 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
While acquitting the accused, including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, the court that the CBI, despite its production of 351 witnesses, had failed to prove that the demolition was premeditated.
There was not enough conclusive evidence of a conspiracy between the accused for the demolition of the mosque.
Special judge Surendra Kumar Yadav held that the audio and video evidence produced by the CBI was not clear and could not establish the key charge of conspiracy.
“Anti-social elements brought down the structure, while some of the accused leaders such as the late Ashok Singhal tried to stop these people,” the judge said. “There is no evidence that the accused got together in common cause with anti-social kar sevaks to bring down the disputed structure.”
Advocate KK Mishra, who is representing 25 of the 32 accused in the case said, "The CBI court has acquitted all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case. This ends the long pending dispute related with the December 6, 1992 incident."
The Demolition of Babri Masjid
On 6 December 1992, the disputed structure of the Babri Masjid was brought down by hundreds of karsevaks in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya district. A makeshift temple was built in its place by those who believe the site to be the birthplace of Lord Ram.
Two FIRs were registered back in December 1992, regarding the demolition of the mosque, FIR 197/1992 and FIR 198/1992.
FIR 197 was filed against thousands of unnamed karsewaks, 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 passed away in November 2015 and February 2020, respectively. The FIR alleges offences under Sections 153-A, 153-B and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Extended Deadlines in Delivering the Verdict
This is the fourth extension granted for the Babri masjid demolition case verdict. First the Supreme 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 to 31 August 2020 and now the final one to 30 September 2020.