SC asks special judge to deliver verdict within nine months

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday asked the special judge conducting trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case, involving BJP veterans such as LK Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti, to deliver the verdict within nine months.
A bench of Justices RF Nariman and Surya Kant said the recording of evidence in the politically sensitive case should be complete within six months.
The bench also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to pass appropriate orders within four weeks to extend the tenure of the special judge, who is set to retire on September 30.
The top court said the extension of tenure of the special judge will only be for the purpose of concluding the trial and delivering the verdict in the case.
During the extended tenure, he will remain under the administrative control of the Allahabad High Court, it said.
The special judge had on Monday moved the apex court seeking six more months to conclude the matter.
Besides Advani, Joshi and Uma 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 held that Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, during whose tenure as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was razed, is entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he remains in gubernatorial position.
The top court Monday sought assistance of the Uttar Pradesh government to devise a mechanism to extend the tenure of the special judge to enable him conclude the trial in the case.
“The special judge after two years of virtual day to day hearing is at the fag end of the hearing of the case and requires little more than six months to complete the trial together with the delivery of the judgement”.
“However, in his letter to us dated May 25, 2019, he has indicated that he will be superannuating on September 30, 2019. We are of the view it is important for the special judge to conclude the proceedings and pronounce the judgement in the the case. Given the facts and circumstances, we call upon the state of Uttar Pradesh to assist us on this behalf. List on Friday,” the court had said. (PTI)

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