A special court in Lucknow delivered the much-awaited judgment on Wednesday in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case. All the 32 accused, including BJP veterans L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, have been acquitted.
CBI judge S.K. Yadav had on September 16 directed all the 32 surviving accused to remain present in the court on the day of the judgment. However, L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh are unlikely to be present in the trial court.
The case relates to the razing of the disputed structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
Here are the latest updates:
Sangh, BJP hail Babri Masjid verdict
The BJP and other organisations of the Sangh Parivar welcomed the acquittal of the 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case by a special CBI court in Lucknow on Wednesday, with senior leader and one of the main accused in the case, L.K. Advani, stating that it vindicated “personal and BJP’s belief and commitment towards the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.”
In a video message, he said: “It is a very important decision and a matter of happiness for us. When we heard the news of the court’s order, we welcomed it by chanting Jai Shri Ram”.
Babri case verdict expected, not surprised: NCP
The NCP on Wednesday said it was not surprised over the special court’s verdict acquitting all accused in the Babri masjid demolition case.
The CBI court in Lucknow has acquitted all the 32 accused, including BJP veterans L.K. Advani and MM Joshi, for want of conclusive proof against them.
“The court has given verdict in the case today. It was expected, and hence, we are not surprised,” Maharashtra minister and NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said in a video message.
The minister said though the accused were acquitted for want of evidence, probe agencies had filed the case based on evidences only.
“Rath Yatra was taken out before December 6 (1992). The media of the country was present at the (mosque) site and documented the events. There were photos taken and videos captured. There are contents available on YouTube. But the court has given its verdict and we respect it,” Mr. Malik said.
The NCP leader said it was unlikely that the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government will approacha higher court against the special CBI court’s judgement as those who were acquitted include leaders of the saffron party.
DMK accuses CBI of not acting fairly in Babri case, calls it a “caged parrot”
DMK president M.K. Stalin on Wednesday alleged the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has failed to act fairly in the Babri mosque demolition case and that it has become a “caged parrot” of the BJP-led Centre.
Despite the Supreme Court’s judgment that “the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship,” the CBI failed to prove the conspiracy in the case and it was a blow to the rule of law, he said.
Destroying any place of worship was injustice and a gross illegal act, Mr. Stalin said in a statement reacting to the acquittal of all the 32 accused in the case by a CBI Special Court in Lucknow.
"The CBI, which should have acted in an impartial and fair manner with a sense of caution, failed to do so and has become a caged parrot of the BJP-led Centre today, which is shameful,” the DMK Chief alleged.
Also, he accused the probe agency of “irresponsible and negligent attitude”, claiming it relinquished its duty under the Criminal Procedure Code which would have long term consequences and was a cause of concern.
Expressing outrage over the verdict, AIMIM Chief Asaduddin Owaisi called it “obnoxious” and said the central agency should appeal against it.
Speaking to reporters, Owaisi in his reaction to the judgement said, “This judgement satisfies the collective consciousness of hindutva and its followers and ideology” He wondered how the court could state that there was no conspiracy in the matter.
“Was it a some sort of magic that on December 6 the masjid was demolished? Who called for the assembling of the people over there? Who made sure that they entered over there?” he asked.
Mr. Owaisi said the CBI should appeal against the judgement “to protect its independence.”
Muslim bodies to collectively decide on challenging Babri case verdict: AIMPLB member
All-India Muslim Personal Law Board senior member Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali on Wednesday said organisations representing the community will together decide whether they need to challenge or not the CBI court verdict in the Babri mosque demolition case.
Refusing to comment on their acquittal, Mr. Mahali said, “I don’t have anything to say on the verdict. Everybody knows how the Babri mosque was sacrificed on December 6, 1992 in Ayodhya and how all rules were flouted.”
CBI to decide on challenging after consulting legal department
The CBI will decide on filing an appeal against the special court verdict acquitting all 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case after consulting the legal department, its counsel said.
“After a copy of today’s verdict is received, it would be sent to the CBI headquarters where it would be studied by the legal department and a decision on filing an appeal would be taken as per its suggestion,” CBI counsel Lalit Singh said.
Verdict runs counter to SC judgement: Congress
Decision of special court to acquit all accused in Babri Masjid demolition case runs counter to Supreme Court judgment and Constitutional spirit, says Congress
Every Indian, who has innate faith in Constitution, expects Centre, state govt to appeal against special court decision in Babri case, it adds.
Whatever had to happen happened on November 9 last year: Ayodhya litigant
Iqbal Ansari, the main litigant in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, appealed Muslims to honour the verdict.
“It is good that all have been acquitted. Whatever had to happen happened on November 9 last year. This case should also have ended the same day.
“This is the CBI’s case and the court has given its ruling today. I appeal to Muslims not to take any further action in this. Just as they honoured the November 9 decision, this verdict too needs to be accepted similarly,” he said.
On November 9 last year, the Supreme Court ordered the 2.77-acre disputed land in Ayodhya to be handed over to a trust for the construction of a Ram temple.
A complete travesty of justice: Yechury
CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury tweeted: "A complete travesty of Justice. All charged with criminal conspiracy to demolish Babri Masjid acquitted. It self imploded? The Constitution Bench headed by then CJI had said that demolition was an “egregious” violation of law. Now this verdict! Shame."
Judgment vindicates my belief: Advani
I wholeheartedly welcome the judgement by the Special Court in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The judgment vindicates my personal and BJP's belief and commitment toward the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, said L.K. Advani after being acquitted.
"I also feel blessed that this judgment has come in the footsteps of another landmark verdict of the Supreme Court given in November 2019, which paved the way for my long cherished dream of seeing a grand Shri Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, the foundation laying ceremoney of which was held on 5th August, 2020," he said.
Mr. Advani also thanks his legal team headed by Mahipal Ahluwalia, besides party workers, leaders, saints and those who supported the Ayodhya movement.
Murli Manohar Joshi happy with the verdict
Murli Manohar Joshi: “we are happy that the court looked into all the facts rhat were in our favour. The entire agitation was for construction of Ram Mandir.
Will say in the end.. Jai Jai Siya Ram "
Mr. Joshi also thanks all lawyers involved in the case for working hard on a complicated case. - Nistula Hebbar
Truth prevailed: Satish Pradhan
Former Shiv Sena MP Satish Pradhan, who was an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, welcomed a CBI special court’s verdict acquitting all the 32 accused in the case.
“Truth has prevailed,” the 80-year-old former mayor of Thane told PTI, after attending the hearing through video conference.
Mr. Pradhan is now with the BJP.
“Truth always prevails. We have full faith in the judiciary,” he said. - PTI
All 32 accused acquitted, says prosecution lawyer
All the 32 accused, including L.K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Satish Pradhan and Mahant Nritya Gopal, have been acquitted in the Babri Masjid demolition case, according to a prosecution lawyer. They were accused of criminal conspiracy.
All of them, including eight BJP leaders, have been acquitted due to lack of evidence.
The over 2,000 page verdict rules that the razing down of Babri Masjid was not a pre-planned event. - Omar Rashid
News agency ANI reports that L.K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Satish Pradhan and Mahant Nritya Gopal are attending the proceedings via video conferencing.
Delhi Police says keeping tight vigil in national capital
The Delhi Police Wednesday said they will keep a strict vigil in the national capital in view of the judgement in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case which is slated to be announced during the day.
“We will keep a watch on the security aspect across the city,” a senior police officer said. - PTI
What did the Supreme Court say on Babri demolition?
The Supreme Court, which kept itself away during the Ayodhya land dispute case hearings from going into the issue of demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992, made a passing remark in its judgement about the event saying it was brought down in a “calculated act.”
The apex court noted that during the pendency of the lawsuits on the disputed land, “the entire structure of the mosque was brought down in a calculated act of destroying a place of public worship“.
“The Muslims have been wrongly deprived of a mosque which had been constructed well over 450 years ago,” a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi noted in its judgement.
Security stepped up in vicinity of Lucknow court
A multi-layered security apparatus was put in place in the vicinity of the Old High Court building.
Wooden barricades were erected near most of the cross sections in the vicinity of the court building, and movement of buses from the Kaisarbagh bus stand diverted.
Vehicular movement on the roads adjoining to the court building was also minimised.
Mediapersons were not allowed to enter the court building. Most of the shops in the vicinity of the courts remained closed in view of the pronouncement of the verdict. - PTI
The arguments so far
The accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case did not produce any witness from their side while only one of them, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, submitted documentary evidence in his defence, lawyers associated with the trial said.
While it is common for the defence side to not produce many witnesses in criminal cases, the court has examined 351 witnesses from the prosecution side in all, over the course of three decades.
Mr. Advani and other top BJP-VHP leaders are accused of being present on the dais some distance away from the Babri Masjid, and exhorting the kar sevaks to demolish the structure.
Mr. Joshi and Mr. Advani had earlier recorded their statements in the case via video conferencing. They had denied the charges against them while testifying.
Pleading innocence, Mr. Kalyan Singh had accused the Congress government at the Centre of implicating him in the case on baseless allegations due to political vendetta. He was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the demolition happened. P.V. Narasimha Rao headed a minority Congress government in the Centre then.
Ms. Bharti had expressed pride that she was a part of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
CBI Judge S K Yadav arrives in court.
Accused Sadhvi Rithambhara, Vinay Katiyar, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey also arrive in court. As many as 27 accused are present in the court.
BJP leaders Advani, Joshi, Bharti unlikely to be present in court
BJP veterans L.K. Advani, M.M. Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh, all accused in the Babri mosque demolition case, are unlikely to be present in the trial court on Wednesday at the time of delivery of verdict in the matter.
Their advocate K.K. Mishra also said that Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas chief, Nritya Gopal Das, too is unlikely to be present in the CBI special court here.
Of the other accused Vinay Katiyar, Dharamdas, Vedanti, Lallu Singh, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey have reached Lucknow ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict.
Two main crimes
A total of 49 FIRs had been filed in the case but the case deals with two main crimes. The first crime (no. 197 of 1992) 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 (no. 198) was lodged against eight persons: Mr. Advani, Ms. Bharti, Mr. Katiyar, Mr. Joshi, Ms. Ritambara, Ashok Singhal (VHP leader), Giriraj Kishore and V.H. Dalmia. Mr. Singhal and Mr. Kishore are now longer alive.
Here is a video explainer originally published in 2017.
Prefer to hang than seek bail in Babri case: Bharti
Former Union Minister Uma Bharti, one of the senior BJP leaders facing a verdict on September 30 in the Babri Masjid demolition case being heard in a special CBI court, has said that she would “prefer to hang than seek bail” in the case, if found guilty.
In an emotional letter written to BJP president J.P. Nadda, dated September 26, the day he announced his new team of office-bearers (dropping her as party vice-president), she said that her decision not to seek bail if found guilty in the case may make him (Mr. Nadda) exclude her from his team, but that would be the latter’s decision.
“I am proud of my participation in the Ayodhya movement and seeking bail would, I believe dilute this participating. Even if I have [to] hang for having participated, it will be acceptable to me. In such circumstances whether or not you would want to keep me in your team is for you to consider,” she wrote.
States told to strengthen security in communally sensitive districts
The Centre has alerted all States to strengthen security arrangements in communally hyper-sensitive and sensitive districts to prevent possible clashes post the judgment in the Babri Masjid demolition case by a special court for CBI cases in Lucknow on September 30.
In an alert, the Union Government said that the judgment could have an impact on the law and order situation, as fringe elements on both sides might communalise the verdict. According to the alert, many Muslim organisations, unhappy with the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case, were hoping that justice could still be done by convicting the accused in the demolition case. They might resort to protests if the verdict was not what they were hoping for, it said.
The alert claimed that while some radical groups were looking for an opportunity to revive the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR agitations in the country, Hindu organisations were hopeful that the accused in the demolition case would be acquitted.
Since the situation was under strain in some States owing to communal issues, State governments should intensify security in sensitive districts and keep a close watch on provocative content in the social media, the Centre said.
Babri demolition verdict on Advani, others today
A special CBI court here will decide on Wednesday if senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and 31 others — many of them linked to the Sangh Parivar — are guilty of instigating a mob of kar sevaks under a criminal conspiracy to bring down the Babri Masjid.
The Mughal-era mosque was demolished almost 28 years ago on December 6, 1992, when the VHP-BJP-RSS combine led a Ram Janmabhoomi movement across several parts of the country.
The accused include Mr. Advani, his BJP colleagues Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh, Lallu Singh, Sakshi Maharaj and Vinay Katiyar, and several others, such as Sadhvi Ritambara and Mahant Nritya Gopal Das. Many of the accused are former or present Members of Parliament or members of State Legislatures.
Mr. Kalyan Singh was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh when the mosque was demolished. According to lawyers connected with the trial, he was the only accused to submit documentary evidence in his defence. None of the accused produced witness in their defence. On the other hand, 351 prosecution witnesses, many of them journalists, were examined during the trial.