Security stepped up for judge in Babri demolition case

SC had ordered U.P. govt. to ensure extra cover for CBI judge trying senior BJP leaders

September 13, 2019 07:12 pm | Updated 07:30 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court of India.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it has provided extra security cover to CBI judge S.K. Yadav, who is trying the Babri Masjid demolition cases against senior BJP leaders.

Prominent BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders like L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti are accused of criminal conspiracy which led to the demolition of the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

April 2020 deadline

The judge had written to the apex court on August 24 for police protection. A Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in turn directed the State to look into the request made by the judge considering the enormity of the work done. The Supreme Court has ordered the trial to be completed speedily by April 2020.

In a notification produced in court, the U.P. government said Mr. Yadav has been provided a house suited to the status of a district judge, a security layer and staff along with an official vehicle.

In July, the apex court had asked the State government to give an extension of tenure to Judge Yadav, who was scheduled to retire on September 30, in order for him to complete the trial in the over 25-year-old cases. The apex court had also extended its two-year deadline given to the trial judge.

Extraordinary powers

In 2017, the apex court had invoked the maxim — ‘Let justice be done though the heavens fall’ — to flex its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to bring the cases to justice.

The apex court had transferred the Rae Bareilly case, languishing in a magistrate’s court, to the CBI Court in Lucknow for a joint trial. It had ordered the Lucknow CBI Judge to hold day-to-day trial and pronounce the judgment in two years. It had forbade the transfer of the judge and also adjournments. Any grievances, the Bench had said, should directly be addressed to the Supreme Court. Its directions have to be complied in letter and spirit, the court cautioned.

The Rae Bareilly case accuses the BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders of having given speeches to promote enmity and threaten national integration.

The Lucknow case, investigated by the CBI, is against “lakhs of unknown kar sevaks” and deals with the actual act of demolition and violence. With the clubbing of the cases and revival of the conspiracy charge, the accused political leaders would be tried under the composite chargesheet filed by the CBI on October 5, 1993.

The Bench agreed with the CBI chargesheet’s finding in 1993 that both the criminal conspiracy by the political leaders and the actual demolition by kar sewaks were part of the “same transaction” and warranted a joint trial.

Besides Mr. Advani, Mr. Joshi and Ms. Bharti, the court had ordered the Lucknow Court to frame conspiracy charges against Vinay Katiar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma and Satish Chandra Nagar. All were named as accused in the 1993 CBI chargesheet.

If convicted, the accused persons would face punishment of three to five years. This would mean that they would be barred from contesting elections for the six years following the completion of their sentence.

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