In a rather rare and exceptiol judicial initiative, the Supreme Court has directed the revival of conspiracy charges in the Babri Masjid case against BJP veterans like L.K.Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, transferred the trial from Rae Bareli to Lucknow and ordered daily hearings with a two-year deadline. Among the others facing the charge is Kalyan Singh, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and current Governor of Rajasthan. But since Kalyan Singh is a governor, he will have immunity from the trial till his term as governor ends. When he ceases to be a governor, the Babri Masjid conspiracy charge against him will stand revived.
It is indeed interesting that the flurry of action from the Supreme Court should have come 25 years after the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya and at a time when large sections of Muslims are probably feeling the same sense of siege that had set in when kar sevaks had carried out in 1992 the most devastating commul act in independent India. What is indeed remarkable is that even today, Uma Bharti, the only Union minister med in the case, should have declared soon after the Supreme Court ruling that she was “proud, upologetic and unrepentant” about her association with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
The Supreme Court directive of Wednesday holds out reasons as to why something that happened almost 25 years ago should have been revived again and trials conducted afresh now. It is the assessment of the apex court that the conduct of the CBI in 1992, in not pursuing the prosecution of the alleged offenders in a joint trial of them, was an act that indicated that technical defects that were easily curable were not pursued by the State government. And so we now have an unusual situation where an old case is having to be reopened because the CBI did nothing to bring it to a ratiol and expected conclusion 25 years ago as it should have done. Quite obviously, the CBI did not feel inclined to proceed against top-ranking leaders of the BJP at that time despite the fact that it was imperative for the CBI to do so without worrying about where the chips fell. In fact, India’s recent history might have taken a different turn had the CBI not worried so much about the people against whom it was obliged to take punitive action but did not because of their status. But can a tion choose the path of winking at the misdeeds of their leaders and waiting 25 years for justice to initiate much-belated action? What is rather saddening perhaps is that the most likely choice of the next President of India—L.K.Advani—will miss the opportunity of a lifetime of being selected because the trial against him too is due to begin in right earnest now. After all, how can the tion choose a president who has the possibility of being convicted of a serious crime? Even in a land that does not elect a president directly, odious comparisons would be drawn between the election of the US President and the choice of the Indian President in respect of what alysts might choose to regard as collective errors.