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Spl CBI court to resume Ayodhya case trial today

The trial in the politically-sensitive 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case by a special CBI court will resume here today, following a Supreme Court order to it to hear the case on a daily basis and deliver the verdict in two years.

The Supreme Court had on April 19 directed the special court to start the proceedings in the matter within a month and deliver its verdict within two years. The CBI court during its first hearing in the state capital granted bail to five VHP leaders named as accused, including Ram Vilas Vedanti, who appeared before it yesterday.

Besides Vedanti (59), those who appeared before the CBI court here on Saturday were VHP leaders Champat Rai (71), Baikunth Lal Sharma (88), Mahant Nritya Gopal Das (79) and Dharmdas Maharaj (68). The sixth accused, Satish Pradhan, did not appear.

CBI special court judge S K Yadav allowed their bail pleas asking each of them to furnish two sureties of Rs 20,000 and a personal bond of the same amount. The Supreme Court had last month directed that BJP stalwarts, including L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti, will face trial on conspiracy charges in the demolition case.

It had dubbed the demolition of the medieval era monument as a "crime" which shook the "secular fabric of the Constitution" and allowed CBI's plea on restoration of criminal conspiracy charges against the VVIP accused.

The matter is likely to have political implications, particularly against 89-year-old Advani, reported to be a front-runner for the post of the President.

The top court, however, had said Kalyan Singh, who is currently the Governor of Rajasthan and 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 held a gubernatorial position. "The Court of Sessions will frame charges and move against him as soon as he ceases to be Governor," it said.

The apex court had come down heavily on the CBI for a delay of 25 years in the trial and said, "The accused persons have not been brought to book largely because of the conduct of the CBI in not pursuing the prosecution of the aforesaid alleged offenders in a joint trial, and because of technical defects which were easily curable, but which were not cured by the State Government."

Issuing a slew of directions, a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman had said, "The proceedings viz.

Crime No. 198/92 (against Advani and five others) in the court of the Special Judicial Magistrate at Rae Bareilly will stand transferred to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge (Ayodhya Matters) at Lucknow."

Besides Advani, Joshi and Bharti, the accused against whom the conspiracy charge would now be invoked, are Vinay Katiar, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Vishnu Hari Dalmia, who were being tried at Rae Bareilly.

"The court of sessions will frame additional charges under Section 120-B (conspiracy) and the other provisions of the Penal Code mentioned in the joint charge sheet filed by the CBI against Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Ram Bilas Vadanti, Vaikunth Lal Sharma and Satish Chandra Nagar," Justice Nariman, writing the judgement for the bench, said.

"The court of sessions will, after transfer of the proceedings from Rae Bareilly to Lucknow and framing of additional charges, within four weeks, take up all the matters on a day-to-day basis from the stage at which the trial proceedings, both at Rae Bareilly and at Lucknow, are continuing, until conclusion of the trial.

"There shall be no de novo (fresh) trial. There shall be no transfer of the Judge conducting the trial until the entire trial concludes. The case shall not be adjourned on any ground except when the sessions court finds it impossible to carry on the trial for that particular date," the apex court had said.

The court also said if the trial is adjourned, then it should be fixed on the the next day or a closely proximate date and the reasons for it shall be recorded in writing. "The sessions court will complete the trial and deliver the judgement within a period of 2 years from the date of receipt of this judgement," it said.
Agencies

Agencies

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