A special CBI court on Wednesday acquitted all accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, including senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Uma Bharti, and MM Joshi. The court observed that there was no conclusive proof against the accused, hence no evidence that the Babri Masjid demolition was pre-planned.
The court delivered its verdict 28 years after the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
The list of 32 accused in the case included senior BJP leaders such as Uma Bharti, LK Advani, and Murli Manohar Joshi, and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure the structure was pulled down.
The CBI, which went into the case, produced 351 witnesses and 600 documents as evidence before the court. Charges were framed against 48 people, but 16 had died during the course of the trial.
The court had to decide whether they had a hand in the razing of the Babri Masjid by kar sewaks in 1992 who claimed that the mosque in Ayodhya was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple.
While 26 out of 32 key accused were present, Advani, Bharti did not attend the court due to health reasons. Joshi was also not present during the court hearing.
The Supreme Court (SC) had set August-end as deadline for the special CBI court to pronounce its verdict in the case but it was later extended by a month.
CBI judge SK Yadav had on September 16 directed all 32 surviving accused to remain present in court on the day of the judgment.
Ahead of the pronouncement of verdict in the Babri mosque demolition case, a multi-layered security apparatus was put in place in the vicinity of the Old High Court building.
Wooden barricades were erected near most of the cross sections in the vicinity of the court building, and movement of buses from the Kaisarbagh bus was diverted.
Vehicular movement on the roads adjoining the court building was also minimised.
As the accused persons started arriving, cops allowed them entry after verifying their details. Supporters were stopped at the barricades itself.
Mediapersons were not allowed to enter the court building. Most of the shops in the vicinity of the courts remained closed in view of the pronouncement of the verdict.
Lucknow's Commissioner of Police Sujeet Pandey also took stock of security arrangements.
Policemen were also seen using the public address system to urge the media and general public to stay behind the barricades.
Some of the accused in the case such as Sadhvi Rithambhara, Lallu Singh, Pawan Pandey waved at mediapersons as they arrived at the gate of the court building.
In a significant judgment last year, the Supreme Court allotted the disputed site in Ayodhya for construction of a Ram temple, while calling the demolition of the mosque a violation of the rule of law.
An alternative five-acre site was marked in the city for building a mosque.