The Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed the recording of evidence on a day-to-day basis by a Rae Bareli court in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Justices Shree Narain Shukla and Surendra Vikram Singh Rathore of the Lucknow Bench of the High Court gave the direction while disposing of a petition by VHP leader Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, who is among the eight accused in the case.
Mr. Dalmiya had challenged the July 22 order of the Rae Bareli district and sessions court, asking the trial court to fix at least 10 days in a month for hearing the case.
Besides Mr. Dalmiya, the accused include BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti and Hindutva activist Sadhvi Rithambara.
The Bench felt this was a fit case in which the court must exercise its inherent powers and issue necessary direction to the trial court to ensure speedy disposal of the matter. The judges said, “When any prosecution witness is in attendance in the court, then his examination-in-chief, cross-examination or re-examination, if any, shall be recorded by the trial court on a day-to-day basis until its conclusion.”
Mr. Dalmiya had termed the sessions court order bad in the eyes of law, claiming that the judge did not have the jurisdiction to give the direction. He contended that some of defence lawyers were coming from far off places and faced problems attending the hearings on the basis of the sessions court order.
Justices Shukla and Rathore said, “The case shall not be adjourned unless the witness himself is not in a position to depose on any particular date or there is some situation beyond the control of defence, which makes the proceedings impossible. Such an adjournment shall not be granted without recording the reasons in writing.”
The court noted, “It is also directed that if any counsel, representing the accused persons, has any difficulty in attending the court on a particular date, then he shall ensure handing over the brief to some other advocate, so that the trial may not be disturbed.”
The judges said, “Whenever witnesses in attendance are examined and cross-examined, then the next date shall be fixed for the evidence of other witnesses, which shall not be later than seven days from the date on which the evidence of the last witness was concluded.”