Taking exception to the CBI counsel’s remark on the Babri Masjid demolition case, the Supreme Court on Thursday said: “Please don’t say that it is a national crime or a matter of national importance. We are yet to decide it. Until we or the trial court decides [it] this way or the other, you can’t make such statements.”

A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and Ranjan Gogoi was hearing a special leave petition filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation against an Allahabad High Court judgment, which upheld the dropping of the conspiracy charge by a special court against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and 18 others.

Earlier, senior counsel P.P. Rao, appearing for the CBI, said leaders of the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad were involved in a “national conspiracy,” which was reflected in the Rath Yatra,” and it’s a case of “national crime.”

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Mr. Advani and Dr. Joshi said: “There has been considerable delay in filing the appeal by the CBI and the court has to examine the delay. It is an abuse of the process of the court and the delay is unpardonable. This is purely a political strategy and they wanted to carry out political agenda even after [one of the parties to the Ayodhya dispute] Aslam Bhure’s petition was dismissed by this court. ”

When Justice Dattu asked Mr. Rao the reason for the delay, counsel said: “There were several documents running into hundreds of pages which were in Hindi had to be translated into English. Orders in Hindi had also to be translated into English.”

At this, Justice Dattu said: “You said it is a case of national importance. Can you say translation of court records takes days and filing of case takes three months?” The Bench, however, granted the CBI time and adjourned the hearing to February 13.

The High Court had on May 20, 2010 upheld the May 4, 2001 special court order and dismissed the CBI’s revision petition for a direction to proceed with the conspiracy charge against Mr. Advani and others in the case of the December 6, 1992 demolition at Ayodhya. The CBI filed the appeal nearly nine months after the High Court verdict, with an application for condoning delay.

Mr. Advani and others, in their response, said the accused in crime No 198/199 had already appeared before the special court, Rae Bareli, and charges had been framed against them to which they had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

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