The Supreme Court on Friday gave one more extension to the special CBI court to deliver its judgment on the demolition of Babri Masjid case against senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and others. The top court has asked the CBI court in Lucknow to now deliver a verdict by 31 August. This is the third extension given by the Supreme Court since 2017, when it first set a two-year deadline to complete the trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
The Supreme Court has now asked the CBI court to use video conferencing to complete its trial.
Last year in July, the Supreme Court had directed the trial court hearing the criminal case of conspiracy to demolish Babri Masjid to deliver the judgment within nine months i.e. by the end of April 2020.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and Surya Kant had then said that the recording of the evidence in the case must be completed within six months and verdict delivered within nine months.
The trial court CBI judge hearing the case in Lucknow is one SK Yadav, who was scheduled to retire on 30 September 2019 but was given an extension to complete the trial. Hindutva zealots led by senior BJP leaders including Advani, Joshi, and Bharti had demolished the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. The development had led to communal violence across India with thousands of people, mostly Muslims, being killed.
The Supreme Court had extraordinarily restored the criminal conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi, and Bharti in the case in April 2017. The apex court had also said that the trial against the accused will take place in a time-bound manner together with another case currently underway against karsevaks.
There were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. The first involved unnamed karsevaks, the trial of which is taking place in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relate to the leaders in a Raebareli court.
Altogether, 13 persons including Advani, Joshi, and Bharti were discharged of the conspiracy charge in the case, the trial of which is being held at a special court in Raebareli.
The second set of cases was against unknown karsevaks who were in and around the disputed structure and the trial was being held at a court in Lucknow.
The appeals were filed by one Haji Mahboob Ahmad (since dead) and the CBI against dropping of conspiracy charges against BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and 19 others for the demolition of the disputed medieval structure on 6 December 1992.
During the hearing, the bench also said that the supplementary charge sheet was filed against eight persons but not against the 13 who were discharged.
Besides BJP leaders Advani, Joshi and Bharti, conspiracy charges were dropped against Kalyan Singh (presently Governor of Rajasthan), Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore (both have since died).
Advani along with party colleagues like Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi, charged with making inflammatory speeches that motivated lakhs of right-wing volunteers or karsevaks to pull down the mosque in 1992.