ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Last Resort?

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Union law minister, Arun Jaitley, claims that the charges framed against L K Advani are "ex facii fabricated" and "Ayodhya was a political movement". As a principal actor in this Advani cannot escape opprobrium for his role. As for whether he is guilty or not, let the law minister ensure a speedy trial. Because all this distracts from the crux of the issue which is that the trial has yet to begin. The crime was committed in 1992, the CBI completed its inquiry by end of 1993. But it took four years for the hearing to be completed before the Special Sessions Court. And now four more years have elapsed and trial is yet to begin. The special sessions judge, J P Srivastava, framed charges on September 30, 1997 against L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharati and 46 others. While framing the charges the judge said that according to him there was prima facie evidence against the accused under sections 147, 153A, 153B, 295, 295A and 505 of CRPC as well as section 120 of IPC. Under Section 228(1)b of CRPC charges have to be read and explained to the accused and he/she asked whether he/she pleads guilty to the offence charged. To thwart trial the 33 accused moved the Allahabad High Court on October 20, 1997. Justice Bhalla, in whose court the appeal was filed, reserved his order pending completion of hearing which even after four years remains incomplete. As a result prosecution remains miles away. This is despite the heinous nature of the crime committed on December 6, 1992 and therefore the need for speedy trial and judgment to establish the rule of law.

It is worth recalling that the agitation and the demolition of Babri masjid resulted in the killing of more than 1,500 persons, rendered homeless several lakhs, destroyed property worth several hundred crores, caused immense loss to the economy running into thousands of crores and led to the civil-war like situation which sapped the energy of our people. When crimes go unpunished, it legitimises revenge. Will the defiance of the democratic republic go unpunished because the demolition and the killings were the result of a political movement? Are crimes against people allowed if they are committed as part of a 'political movement'? Perhaps 'political agitation', like patriotism, has become the resort of scoundrels.

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