In the latest development in the Babri Masjid demolition case, a special judge holding the trial, moved the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking six more months to conclude the trial. The case involves political veterans of BJP like L K Advani, M M Joshi to name a few.
The special judge, in a letter written in May, had informed the top court that he is due to superannuate on September 30, 2019.
The matter came up for hearing on Monday before a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman, which asked the Uttar Pradesh government to apprise it by July 19 about a mechanism by which the tenure of the special judge could be extended till he delivered the verdict in the high-profile case. In April, 2017, the top court had ordered the day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years.
The Apex Court had dubbed the demolition of the medieval era monument as a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution”. It had also allowed the CBI’s plea on restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the VVIP accused.
It had, however, granted immunity to Kalyan Singh, currently the Governor of Rajasthan and during whose tenure as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh that the demolition occurred, stating that he is entitled to immunity under Constitution as long as he remained in gubernatorial position.
There has been a delay of 25 years in the case and the Apex Court questioned the CBI for this. “The accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the State Government, “it said.
It also directed that “the proceedings (against Advani and five others) in the court of the Special Judicial Magistrate at Rae Bareilly will stand transferred to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge (Ayodhya Matters) at Lucknow.”
Other than the two top leaders, the following have also been named in the conspiracy – Vinay Katiar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Vishnu Hari Dalmia.
“The court of sessions will frame additional charges under Section 120-B (conspiracy) and the other provisions of the Penal Code mentioned in the joint charge sheet filed by the CBI against Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma and Satish Chandra Nagar,” the apex court had said.
It also said that in case the trial was adjourned, then it should be fixed on the next day or a closely proximate date and the reasons for it shall be recorded in writing. CBI also needs to ensure that on every date fixed for recording of evidence, some prosecution witnesses must remain present, so that for want of witnesses the matter is not adjourned.
Out of the eight VIP accused, Giriraj Kishore and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal have died during trial and the proceedings against them have been abated.