A special court on Wednesday acquitted all 32 accused including BJP veterans L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti of involvement in the destruction of Babri Masjid 28 years ago, a verdict slammed by the opposition as running counter to the constitutional spirit.
In a 2,300-page judgment, the CBI court said there was no conclusive evidence against the accused of being part of any conspiracy to bring down the disputed structure in Ayodhya.
Delivering the verdict on the day of his retirement, special Judge S K Yadav did not accept newspaper reports and video cassettes as evidence.
The 16th century mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992 by kar sevaks who believed that it occupied the site where Lord Ram was born, the destruction triggering riots that left hundreds dead in the country and widening rifts between the communities.
Twenty-six of the 32 accused were present in the Lucknow court when the judge read out the operative portion of the verdict, an exercise which took five minutes.
Former deputy prime minister L K Advani, the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, former Union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, Ram Janmaboomi Teerth Kshetra Trust president Nritya Gopal Das and Shiv Sena leader Satish Pradhan had sought exemptions from personal appearance.
Here are 10 quotes from the historic judgement:
The video cassettes were not sealed and even the videos were not clear and as such the same cannot be relied upon
Prosecution did not submit any audio/video tape of these accused chanting such slogans - ek dhakka aur do Babri Masjid tod do (give one more push to demolish Babri Masjid) - the chargesheet makes it clear there were lakhs of Kar Sewaks in the complex and they were raising slogans and no record or matching voice samples have been presented
Lakhs of kar sevaks attacked and broke the disputed structure, which has severely hurt national unity
Even VHP leader late Ashok Singhal was trying to stop the kar sevaks from demolishing the disputed structure because the idol of Lord Ram was also inside the structure
The group that created ruckus were definitely hooligans because if they were actual believers of Lord Ram they would have paid heed to Ashok Singhal's statement that the disputed structure is also a temple and you have to protect it
That the named accused got together in common cause with anti-social Kar Sewaks to bring down the disputed structure, there is no evidence in the chargesheet to prove this.
The leaders seated on stage and those near the Ram chabutara - Ashok Singhal, Vijaya Raje Scindia - did not suspect that a section of the Kar Sewaks will get agitated and climb the disputed structure."
Mere provocative speeches cannot be said to be against national integrity. The accused cannot be convicted under the provisions of law that penalise attempts to create communal disharmony just on the grounds of provocative speeches
Evidence also suggests that RSS and VHP volunteers were taking care of arrangements and regularly making announcements. Seating arrangements for women, the elderly, the media and parking was being handled by them.
(With inputs from Agencies)