The Supreme Court has extended the deadline to September 30, 2020 for the CBI Court to deliver its judgment in the Babri Masjid demolition case which sees senior BJP leaders like L K Advani, M M Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh facing criminal charges.
The Bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee decided to extend the time given to Special Judge, Surendra Kumar Yadav, to arrive at a verdict after he submitted a progress report apprising the Court that the proceedings were near completion.
Having been informed of the status of the trial, the Top Court allowed the Special Judge's application and extended the previous deadline by one month.
"Having read the report of Mr. Surendra Kumar Yadav, learned Special Judge, and considering that the proceedings are at the fag end, we grant one month's time, i.e., till 30th September, 2020, to complete the proceedings including delivery of judgment", reads the Order dated August 19, 2020.
Earlier, on May 8, 2020, a Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justices Nariman and Surya Kant had extended the deadline for Special CBI Court, Lucknow to deliver its judgment in the case by August 31, 2020 after considering a similar request by the Special Judge.
Special Judge Surendra Yadav had written to the Supreme Court on May 6, intimating that even the recording of evidence had not been completed by then.
The Bench had then suggested that the Judge use video conferencing facilities to wrap up proceedings and had asked him to ensure that the deadline "is no longer breached".
Prior to that, on July 19, 2019, the same bench had directed the Trial Court to complete the recording of evidence within six months and deliver judgment within nine months. The Court had also directed the UP Government to issue administrative orders to extend the tenure of the Special Judge of CBI Court, Lucknow till the delivery of judgment. The judge was otherwise due to retire on September 30, 2019.
BJP veterans L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharati and 13 others are facing trial on charges of criminal conspiracy behind the demolition of Babri Masjid in December, 1992.
On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman had restored the conspiracy charges against the accused by allowing an appeal filed by the CBI against the discharge given by the Allahabad High Court to the accused.
Invoking its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the bench also transferred the pending separate trial in a Rae Bareilly Magistrate court and clubbed it with criminal proceedings in the Lucknow CBI Court.
The top court had further ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years in the case.
The civil case pertaining to Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute attained finality on November 8, 2019, when a 5-judge bench directed that the entire disputed land of 2.77 acres in Ayodhya must be handed over for the construction of Ram Mandir.
The Top Court had held that an alternate plot of 5 acres must be allotted to the Sunni Waqf Board for the construction of a mosque. This direction was passed invoking powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.
The Court had then observed that the destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992 was a violation of law. The act of placing idols beneath the central dome of the mosque in 1949 was an act of "desecration", observed the Constitution Bench comprising of then CJI Ranjan Gogoi along with Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer.
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