Respond to Ayodhya case judge’s protection plea, SC tells U.P.

The court also asks the State to issue a notification for extending the tenure of Judge Yadav in the next fortnight.

Updated - August 23, 2019 08:13 pm IST

Published - August 23, 2019 08:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Supreme Court of India. File

Supreme Court of India. File

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to respond to a request made by CBI judge S.K. Yadav, who is trying the Babri Masjid demolition cases against senior BJP leaders, for protection.

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

In July, the apex court asked the State government to extend the tenure of Judge Yadav, who was scheduled to retire on September 30, so that he could complete the trial in the over 25-year-old cases. It also extended the two-year deadline given to the judge to complete the trial by nine more months.

In a brief hearing on Friday, a Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman observed that the judge’s concern about his safety was valid.

The court also asked the State government to issue a notification for extending the tenure of Judge Yadav in the next fortnight.

In 2017, the court 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 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 be directly addressed to the Supreme Court. Its directions have to be complied with 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, threatening 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 charge sheet filed by the CBI on October 5, 1993.

The Bench agreed with the CBI charge sheet's finding in 1993 that both the criminal conspiracy by the political leaders and the actual demolition by kar sevaks 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 charge sheet.

If convicted, the accused persons would face punishment for 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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