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Posted at: Jul 16, 2019, 7:10 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2019, 9:52 AM (IST)

Special judge moves SC, seeks 6 months more for Babri trial

BJP leaders Advani, Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar among accused

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 15

A special judge trying the Babri Masjid demolition case on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking six additional months to conclude the trial against senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others. The judge of Lucknow-based special court told the top court in a letter dated May 25 that he was due to retire on September 30 this year and that he needed at least six more months to complete the trial.

A Bench headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman asked the Uttar Pradesh government to inform it by Friday about a mechanism to extend the judge’s tenure to enable him to conclude the trial.

It asked senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati, representing Uttar Pradesh government, to find a “way out” to extend the judge’s tenure. “You find out the mechanism and refer to the rules. If possible, we can extend the tenure by exercising powers under Article 142 of the Constitution,” it told Bhati.

“We are of the view it is important for the special judge to conclude the proceedings and pronounce the judgment in the case. Given the facts and circumstances, we call upon the state of Uttar Pradesh to assist us on this behalf,” it said, posting the matter for hearing on Friday.

Besides Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti, the accused facing criminal conspiracy charge include former BJP MP Vinay Katiyar and 

Sadhvi Ritambhara. Three other high-profile accused have died. Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure as UP Chief Minister the disputed structure was demolished, is not being tried as the top court held that being a Governor, he was immune to prosecution. But charges would be framed against him once he ceases to be Governor, the court had said.

On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years in the case. Accepting the CBI’s plea for restoration of criminal charges against these leaders and others, the court had ordered day-to-day hearing in the case in Lucknow, setting a two-year deadline for the trial to be completed.

The court revived the charges 16 years after they were dropped by a Lucknow court on technical grounds. 

The Mughal-era mosque in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya was demolished by kar sevaks, or supporters of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), on December 6, 1992, sparking one of India’s worst communal riots that left more than 3,000 people dead.

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