Not a Governor now, Kalyan Singh may have to face trial in Babri case

Kalyan Singh
Outgoing Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh may have to face trial for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case as the immunity he has been enjoying for holding the constitutional post will go away at the end of his tenure, sources said. Photo - PTI

Outgoing Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh may have to face trial for criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case as the immunity he has been enjoying for holding the constitutional post will go away at the end of his tenure, sources said.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday appointed former Union minister Kalraj Mishra as the new Governor of Rajasthan to succeed Singh.

On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered revival of criminal conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati. It had also clarified that Singh, who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992, could not be brought in as an accused to face trial in view of the constitutional immunity granted to Governors under Article 361 of the Constitution.

However, the apex court told the CBI to call Singh as an accused as soon as he ceases to be the Governor.

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Article 361 of the Constitution confers immunity to the President and Governors from criminal and civil cases during their term of office. It says no court can issue summons to the President or a Governor in any case.

“As Singh’s tenure as Governor comes to an end, he may have to face the trial unless the government appoints him in another constitutional post,” a source privy to the development said.

Singh was appointed as the Rajasthan Governor on September 3, 2014 for a five-year tenure. According to the CBI case against Singh, he, as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, had given assurance before the National Integration Council that he would not allow demolition of the disputed structure and the Supreme Court had permitted for only symbolic kar sewa to be performed at the disputed site.

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“Singh had also said that he will fully ensure the protection of the structure and it will not be felled down, but he allegedly acted in opposition to his assurances,” said an order of the special judge, Lucknow in 1997 subsequent to a CBI charge sheet against him in 1993.

The CBI had also alleged that Singh, as the chief minister, did not issue the order of the use of the central force. “From this it seems that prima facie he was a necessary participant in the criminal conspiracy,” the special court had ruled in 1997. Singh had resigned as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh after the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992.