Justice Rohinton F Nariman will after all be on the bench which will hear the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appeal against dropping of charges of criminal conspiracy against BJP leaders in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. Justice Nariman during the last hearing on March 6 had made some sharp observations and indicated that the court was inclined in favour of a joint trial on the charge of conspiracy, to which the Additional Solicitor General had also concurred.
When, therefore, the appeal was listed before a bench comprising Justice PC Ghose and Deepak Gupta, there were concerns raised over why Justice Nariman was not on the bench. Livelaw.in reported the development.
However on Wednesday the Supreme Court fixed for Thursday the hearing in the Babri Masjid demolition case in which BJP leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi and Uma Bharti are among the accused.
A bench headed by Justice PC Ghose said the appropriate bench comprising him and Justice RF Nariman will be hearing the matter tomorrow. Justice Nariman was not present in the court today. The bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, said that Justice Nariman will be back tomorrow and it will take up the matter.
At the outset, counsel for Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since deceased) moved an application seeking a week's time to file a report with regard to the status of the case in trial court. Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the BJP leaders, said the matter should be listed after four weeks to enable them to file some documents.
On March 6, the apex court had decided to examine the appeal against dropping of conspiracy charge against the accused including Advani, Joshi and Bharti in the case related to demolition of Babri Masjid in the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya in 1992.
The top court had also came up with an option of ordering a joint trial of cases arising out of the two FIRs lodged in the wake of the demolition of the disputed structure.
However, the clubbing of two FIRs was opposed by the counsel for the accused on the ground that there were different sets of persons named as accused in the two cases, the trial of which were at an advanced stage at two different places. They were of the view that joint trial would lead to the beginning of proceedings de novo (afresh).
Altogether, 13 persons including Advani, Joshi and Bharti were discharged of conspiracy charge in the case, the trial of which is being held at a special court in Rae Bareli.
The second set of case was against unknown 'karsevaks' who were in and around the disputed structure and the trial was being held at a court in Lucknow.
The appeals were filed by Ahmad and CBI against dropping of conspiracy charges against Advani, Joshi and 19 others for demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992.
With PTI inputs.