BABRI MASJID DEMOLITION CASE

Special judge seeks 6 months’ time from SC to conclude trial


A special judge hearing the politically-sensitive Babri Masjid demolition case involving senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others, on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking six more months to conclude the trial in the case. The special judge, in a letter written in May, has informed the top court that he is due to superannuate on September 30, 2019.

The matter came up for hearing on Monday before an apex court 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 delivers the verdict in the case. The top court had on April 19, 2017, ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years in the politically sensitive 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case. The mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992.

While dubbing the demolition of the Masjid as a "crime" which shook the "secular fabric of the Constitution", the apex court had allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea on restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the accused. However, the top court had said Kalyan Singh, who is now the Governor of Rajasthan and during whose tenure as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh the structure was razed, is entitled to immunity under Constitution as long as he remained in the gubernatorial position.

The court had come down heavily on the CBI for the delay of 25 years in the trial and said "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."

Besides Advani and Joshi, the other leaders against whom the conspiracy charge was invoked, were Vinay Katiar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Vishnu Hari Dalmia who were being tried at Rae Bareilly. Out of the eight key leaders accused, Giriraj Kishore and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal died during trial and court proceedings against them have been abated.