A special court in Lucknow will deliver the judgment on Wednesday in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case in which several BJP veterans are among the accused.
The accused include former deputy prime minister LK Advani, former Union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, besides Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Rithambara.
Champat Rai, the general secretary of the trust in charge of constructing the Ram temple, is also among those accused.
CBI judge SK Yadav had on September 16 directed all the 32 surviving accused to be present in the court on the day of the judgment.
Bharti and Singh are in hospital being treated for the coronavirus, while Advani and Joshi have reportedly sought an exemption from appearance in court, NDTV reported.
Bharti had in 2017 told Aaj Tak, “I am happy to be an accused in the Ayodhya movement case. Being an accused in Ayodhya movement is not a taint. I consider this as a chandan tilak on forehead.”
Singh, during whose tenure as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was demolished, was put on trial in September last year after his tenure as governor (of Rajasthan) came to an end.
Centre’s security alert
The Centre alerted all states to strengthen security arrangements in communally hyper-sensitive and sensitive districts to prevent, saying the judgment could have an impact on the law and order situation.
According to The Hindu, the government’s alert said Muslim organisations, unhappy with the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya title suit case, may resort to protests if the verdict was not what they were hoping for.
The government alert also claimed some radical groups were looking for an opportunity to revive the anti-CAA protests.
With the Supreme Court setting August 31 as the deadline and later extending it by a month for the CBI court to give its verdict, the trial court started day-to-day hearing to complete the task in time.
The CBI produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 17 have died during the course of trial.
The trial under the serious criminal conspiracy charges commenced against them after having been dropped by the trial court in 2001. The verdict was upheld by the Allahabad High Court in 2010, but the Supreme Court ordered restoration of the conspiracy charge against them on April 19, 2017.
The top court ordered daily hearing in the case and directed the special judge to conclude it in two years.
The charge of conspiracy is in addition to the existing charges against them for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion for which they are already facing trial.
The Hindu reports a total of 49 FIRs had been filed in the case but the case deals with two main crimes. The first crime was alleged against lakhs of kar sevaks on charges of dacoity, robbery, causing of hurt, injuring and defiling places of public worship, promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion and so on.
The second FIR was lodged against Advani, Bharti, Katiyar, Joshi, Ritambara, Ashok Singhal , Giriraj Kishore and VH Dalmia. Singhal and. Kishore are no more.
The CBI argued that the accused conspired and instigated ‘kar sevaks’ to demolish the mosque. But the accused pleaded innocence maintaining that there is no evidence to prove their guilt and claimed they were implicated by the then Congress government at the Centre as a political vendetta.
The title dispute verdict
The Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 by “kar sevaks” who claimed that the mosque in Ayodhya was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple.
The Supreme Court last year allotted the disputed site in Ayodhya for construction of a Ram temple, while calling the demolition of the mosque a violation of the rule of law. An alternative five-acre site was marked in the city for building a mosque.