Discharge petition rejected, Charges to be framed against Advani, Joshi & Bharti

Lucknow, May 30 (PTI) A special CBI court today granted bail to BJP stalwarts L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti after they appeared before it in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Bail was also granted to BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP's Vishnu Hari Dalmia and one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Ritambara, who too presented themselves before the court.

All six were given bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each by CBI Special judge S K Yadav.

They appeared before the court for framing of charges in the light of a Supreme Court order restoring the serious offence of criminal conspiracy against them.

After the court's order on the discharge applications, charges will be framed in the politically sensitive case, lawyers attending the proceedings said.

The court, which is hearing two separate cases relating to the demolition of the 16th-century mosque, had granted bail to Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan earlier this month in the second matter.

After Advani, Joshi and Bharti did not turn up in court on May 25 and 26, the special court had said that no further application for an adjournment or exemption from personal appearance would be entertained.

The Supreme Court had on April 19 ordered the prosecution of Advani (89), Joshi (83), Bharti (58) and the others, directing that the trial be concluded in two years.

Advani this morning met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath after he arrived at the VVIP guest house here before leaving for the special court.

The Supreme Court had called the destruction of the mosque a "crime" which shook the "secular fabric of the Constitution" while allowing the CBI's plea seeking restoration of the criminal conspiracy charge against the four BJP leaders, including Katiyar (62), and against Ritambara (53) and Dalmia, who is in his late eighties.

However, the top court had said BJP leader and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the structure was razed, was entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he held the gubernatorial office.

It had transferred the case against Advani, Joshi, Bharti and three other accused from a Raebareli court to Lucknow for a joint trial in the demolition case.

Hindutva leader Vedanti claimed that he was among those who had pulled down the disputed structure in Ayodhya.

"I was one of those who had pulled the dome down," Vedanti, who appeared before the special court in the Ayodhya case, told reporters earlier.

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