Lucknow : BJP stalwarts L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti today appeared before a special CBI court here for framing of the charge of criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP's Vishnu Hari Dalmia and one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Ritambara too presented themselves before the court in the politically sensitive case.
Special CBI judge S K Yadav had said on May 26 that no 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 other accused of criminal conspiracy. It also directed that the trial be concluded in two years.
The court, which is hearing two separate cases relating to the demolition of the 16th-century mosque, would also frame charges against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan in the second matter.
Earlier, Advani 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 criminal conspiracy charge against the four BJP leaders, including Katiyar (62), and Ritambara (53) and Dalmia, who is in his late eighties.
However, the top court had said BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who is the Rajasthan Governor and during whose tenure as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed 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 is here to appear before the special court in the Ayodhya case, told reporters.