New Delhi: In a big setback for the ruling BJP, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that its senior leaders including LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and several others will face trial on conspiracy charges in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The apex court, however, excluded former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, who is at present serving as the Governor of Rajasthan and enjoys Constitutional immunity. No case would be registered against him, said the apex court.
The apex court passed in response to CBI's appeal challenging withdrawal of conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders including LK Advani.
The apex court also directed that the trial against the BJP leaders should be completed in two years.
After the apex court order, the matter will now be heard in Lucknow Court and the accused will be examined on a day-to-day basis.
The highest court of the country also ordered that no adjournment would be given under normal circumstances and no judge, hearing the case, would be transferred.
The Allahabad High Court had earlier dropped the charges of criminal conspiracy.
Reacting to the apex court ruling, BJP spokesperson GVLN Rao said, ''We will study the court order on LK Advani, Uma Bharti, MM Joshi and others till then we can't say anything.''
Meanwhile, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said that there is no need for Uma Bharti to resign in the wake of apex court ruling as the charges against her are baseless.
Why should leaders like Uma Bharti resign from Union Minister's position, these all are baseless charges, Vinay Katiyar was quoted as saying by News18.
We want Ram Mandir to be built soon, he added and said that he is ready to go to jail for the temple.
During the last hearing, the central probe agency had told the apex court that criminal conspiracy charges against BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and some others must be revived.
Noting that the matter was pending for last 25 years, the bench of Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said that they would invoke extraordinary powers under the Constitution's Article 142 to transfer the trial to Lucknow where the eight leaders, including and Joshi, could be tried for conspiracy along with 13 others.
The CBI had moved the top court against May 2010 Allahabad High Court verdict dropping conspiracy charge against the eight senior Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders.
Advani and Joshi, along with Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar (all BJP), Sadhvi Rithambra, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Ashok Singhal and Vishnu Hari Dalmia (VHP) were facing trial for making speeches from the dais at Ramkatha Kunj prior to the razing of the 16th century mosque in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 by Hindu right-wing activists.
The spot was just 200 meters away from the disputed structure.
Kishore and Singhal have since passed away.
A bench of Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman said there cannot be two trials - one at Rae Bareili against Advani and others and another at Lucknow against 'karsevaks' - in connection with the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
The court said it will be in the interest of parties that the cases, which are pending since 1992, are disposed of within a time frame while favouring shifting of the trial in the case against Advani and others from a court in Rae Bareli to Lucknow.
It was also of the view that the conspiracy charges against the accused cannot be dropped on the pretext of technical glitches and that it has stepped in to examine their restoration as the serious charge was originally in the joint charge sheet filed by the CBI in both set of the cases.
The conspiracy charges were later dropped by the trial court and the order was upheld by the Allahabad High Court for want of sanction from the chief justice of the high court.
Others including Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Avaidyanath, Paramhans Ramchandra, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Mahamandaleshwar Jagdish Muni Maharaj, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Dharam Das Chola, Satish Nagar, Moreshwar Save and Baikunth Lal Sharma are also facing trial for conspiracy charges in Lucknow.