Tenure of special judge trying Babri Masjid demolition case extended: UP to SC

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NEW DELHI, Sept 13 (AGENCIES): The Uttar Pradesh government Friday told the Supreme Court that it has complied with its direction and extended the tenure of a special judge who is conducting trial in the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case involving BJP veterans L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti.

Special judge Surendra Kumar Yadav, who is conducting the trial in Lucknow, was set to retire on September 30. The apex court on July 19 ordered extension of his tenure till delivery of verdict in the case.

At the outset, the bench said it has gone through the affidavit filed by the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh as well as the September 5 office memo in this regard.

“We take the affidavit and office memo on record. According to the office memo, the compliance of our order is complete. We are satisfied that the needful has been done,” the bench said while disposing of the matter.

Senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, told the bench that they have complied with the top court’s earlier direction in the matter regarding extension of tenure of the special judge.

The bench told Bhati that it has received a communication from the special judge in which he pointed out that he has to remain under the administrative control of the Allahabad High Court.

Bhati said it was not specifically mentioned in the office memo but since the apex court had already said this in its July 19 order, this would be followed.

The top court had on August 23 asked the Uttar Pradesh government to look into the requests made by the special judge in his letter to the apex court, considering the enormity of the work done by him.

In his July 27 letter, the special judge had sought some facilities, including that a residential house suitable to the status of district judge be allotted, security at residence, personal security, official vehicle be provided to him along with proper infrastructure and court staffs be provided.

In the office memo, the state government has said that “a decision had also been taken to extend all the facilities to him (special judge) as were sought”.

It said that in compliance of the top court’s order, the governor of Uttar Pradesh “is pleased to order for reemployment and continuity in service to Surendra Kumar Yadav… after his date of retirement i.e. September 30, 2019 for trial of all the cases connected with the Ayodhya Prakaran and till the passing of the judgement and order in the said case”.

The top court had earlier said that extension of tenure of the special judge would only be for the purpose of concluding the trial and delivering the verdict in the case.

He was also asked by the top court to deliver the verdict within nine months.

Besides Advani, Joshi and Bharti, the accused against whom conspiracy charge was invoked in the case by the Supreme Court on April 19, 2017, include former BJP MP Vinay Katiar and Sadhvi Ritambara.

Three other high-profile accused Giriraj Kishore, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal and Vishnu Hari Dalmia died during trial and the proceedings against them have been abated.

The top court had in 2017 held that the then Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was razed, was entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he remains in a gubernatorial position.

While dubbing the demolition of the monument as a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution”, it had allowed the CBI’s plea on restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the VVIP accused.

The court had termed the Allahabad High Court’s February 12, 2001 verdict dropping conspiracy charge against Advani and others as “erroneous”.

Before the 2017 verdict of the apex court, there were two sets of cases relating to the demolition of the disputed structure on December 6, 1992 going on at Lucknow and Raebareli.

The trial of first case involving unnamed ‘karsevaks’ was going on in a Lucknow court, while the second set of cases relating to the eight VVIPs were going on in a Raebareli court.

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