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Babri Masjid demolition: SC may revive conspiracy charges against LK Advani, Uma Bharti
The Supreme Court could revive the criminal conspiracy charges against 13 BJP and other Hindu right-wing leaders including senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The conspiracy charges were earlier dropped by the special trial court.

A bench of justices PC Ghosh and RS Nariman was hearing a petition by the CBI that had challenged the Allahabad High Court's decision to uphold the trial court discharge order which had dropped the charges on technical grounds.

"People cannot be discharged like this on technical ground," the bench said.

The SC bench also suggested to the CBI to club the two cases pending in Rae Bareli and Lucknow and ordered the matter to be heard in Lucknow. This direction from the Bench came despite opposition from the advocates representing the leaders.

CBI counsel additional solicitor general Neeraj Kishan Kaul accepted the court's view and said: "We are fine with the suggestion. That is the reason why we appealed against the HC order."

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, counsel for the leaders, requested for a detailed hearing and the bench granted that. The matter will now come up for a detailed hearing on March 22.

The court also allowed the CBI to file a supplementary chargesheet invoking conspiracy charges against the leaders.

Venugopal also opposed the move to club the two petitions on the grounds that in case the two trials are combined the proceedings would have to be started afresh and this would also lead to 183 witnesses to be recalled for cross-examination.

In May 2001, the special court in Lucknow dropped criminal charges against the 13 leaders on the ground there were two FIRs registered and the one pending before it under the criminal conspiracy section did not name them. The CBI rushed to the HC, which on May 20, 2010 upheld the order. Although the agency moved the top court in appeal, it was almost a year after the HC verdict.

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