Judge who acquitted Makkah Masjid blast case accused to join BJP

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Congress cry foul over what they call is a conspiracy behind the acquittal

Hyderabad: A judge who had acquitted all the accused belonging to Hindu extremist groups in the Makkah Masjid bomb blast case earlier this year has decided to join the BJP.

Former IVth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge K Ravinder Reddy visited the BJP state office and met the senior party leader and former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya.

The development has created a stir in political and legal circles in Hyderabad.

Party sources said that he had come to the office with the plans of formally joining the party, but was asked by the party leaders to wait for sometime.

In his April 19 judgement, Reddy had acquitted all the five accused belonging to Hindu groups including Swami Aseemanand alias Nabha Kumar Sircar, an RSS member citing lack of sufficient proof. Reddy then submitted his resignation soon after pronouncing the verdict.

Nine people were killed when a bomb exploded in the courtyard of Makkah Masjid soon after a Friday congregation on May 18, 2007, killing 16 people and injuring around 100.

Later, the CBI and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested Lokesh Sharma and Devender Gupta, members of various Hindu groups including RSS.

Reddy told the media that he had come to the BJP office to join the party on invitation by BJP leaders. “I had come after meeting the President Amit Shah in Hyderabad last week and was also in touch with Bandaru Dattatreya. I had come on their invitation to join the party,” he said.

Sources in the state BJP office said that no date was fixed for his formal joining and that Dattatreya asked him to wait till a formal communication from the central leadership. Sources said that there was a need for some more discussions within the party and all the state leaders, including state BJP president K Lakshman need to be taken into confidence.

Defending his decision to join the BJP, Reddy said: “BJP is a patriotic party, free of any dynastic culture. The party is committed to check anti-national elements and to work for national integration”, he said. Reddy said that he wants to contest the coming assembly elections, preferably from his home district Karimnagar or Medak.

When asked whether his move will not cast aspersions and raise doubts about his judgement acquitting the accused in the blast case, he said: “This has nothing to do with the judgement. I discharged my duties as a judge with integrity and honesty. I am now retired from service to serve the country and the people.”

After he submitted his resignation, the Hyderabad High Court rejected it and asked him to return to work. Reddy, however, took voluntary retirement later. The resignation led to a lot of speculations and many saw it as an indication that not everything about the Makkah Masjid judgement was above board. While the accused’s acquittal had come under flak from the Muslim community, specially the survivors and the families of the victims, the BJP had defended it saying the members of the Hindu organisation were wrongly implicated in the case.

Reddy, who also served as the president of the Telangana state Judges Association, had quite an eventful career. An advocate had filed a complaint against him that he showed undue favour in granting bail to an accused in a land documents forgery case, when he was just in-charge of the court for two days. Reddy had created controversy by participating in the agitation for a separate state.

Though Reddy sought to rule out the link between the Makkah Masjid blast case judgement and his decision to join the BJP, criticism continued from different quarters.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president and MP Asaduddin Owaisi said: “We knew where he was going. Now, he will be rewarded by the BJP leadership”.

Referring to the retired judge’s decision to contest the coming assembly elections, he said: “I am sure Aseemanand and his friends will campaign for him and I hope the retired judge loses his deposit.”

Mohammed Ali Shabbir, leader of the opposition Congress in Telangana Legislative Council said that the judge’s joining the BJP exposes the deep conspiracy behind the acquittal of the accused in the Makkah Masjid case. “There was a deep nexus behind it. The prosecutor belonged to the BJP and now the judge, after his retirement, is joining BJP. This clearly shows that even the courts are being controlled and influenced. The doors of justice were also being closed for the people.”

He questioned how the accused could be acquitted even after giving confession to a judge. “I hold the TRS government in the state also responsible. They are in power. Why did they not challenge the lower court judgement in the High Court?” he asked.

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