NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court judge on Thursday recused himself from hearing appeals against the dropping of the criminal conspiracy charge against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and 16 other Sangh leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Justice V Gopala Gowda, who was heading the bench hearing the case, withdrew without citing any reason and said “let the matter be placed before the Chief Justice” for its allocation to some other bench. The appeals were filed by Haji Mahboob Ahmad and the CBI against the dropping of the conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi and the 16 others over the Dec 6, 1992 demolition of the mosque.
The petiotioner wants the Allahabad High Court’s May 20, 2010 order that dropped IPC Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) to be set aside. In September last year, the CBI told the apex court that its decision-making process was not influenced by anyone and that it hadn’t pressed for dropping the conspiracy charge.
On Ahmad’s plea, the apex court had earlier sought the responses of Advani, Joshi, Union minister Uma Bharti , Vinay Katiyar, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore (now deceased), Sadhvi Rithambhara, Mahant Avaidhynath, Nritya Gopal Das, Paramhans Ram Chandra Das, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, Satish Pradhan, C R Bansal, R V Vedanti, Jagdish Muni Maharaj, B L Sharma, Dharam Das, Satish Nagar and Moreshwar Save.
The premier investigative agency had chargesheeted Advani and 20 others under Sections 153A (promoting enmity), 153B (imputationsprejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc circulated with the intent to disturb public peace) of the IPC.