LK Advani before paying tribute to Ram Manohar Lohia on his birth anniversary in New Delhi on March 23. (Prem Singh)
New Delhi, April 19: The Supreme Court today laid down a series of norms to ensure that hearings are held daily in the Babri demolition case, noting that a similar order by a high court was followed "only in the breach".
After the proceedings are be transferred from Rae Bareli to Lucknow and charges are framed within four weeks, the matter should be taken up "on a day-to-day basis" till the trial concludes, the bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and R. F Nariman ruled.
"There shall be no de novo trial (fresh examination of witnesses). 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. In such an event, on grant of adjournment to the next day or a closely proximate date, reasons for the same shall be recorded in writing," the apex court said.
The CBI should ensure that on every date fixed for evidence, some prosecution witnesses must remain present, so that for want of witnesses the matter would not be adjourned.
Setting a deadline, the top court said: "The sessions court will complete the trial and deliver the judgment within a period of two years from the date of receipt of this judgment."
The court asked all parties to the case to alert it in case the order for day-to-day hearing is flouted. "We make it clear that liberty is given to any of the parties before the sessions court to approach us in the event of these directions not being carried out, both in letter and in spirit," Justice Nariman said.
The bench recalled the earlier ruling by the high court in 2011 to ensure daily hearings.
"We have been told that this has only been followed in the breach as less than a hundred witnesses have yet been examined. Any number of adjournments has been taken by the CBI as well as the other persons. One other disturbing feature is the fact that the special judge designated by the notification to carry on the trial at Rae Bareli has been transferred a number of times, as a result of which the matter could not be taken up on the dates fixed," the court said.
There are two sets of cases in connection with the December 6, 1992, demolition. FIR No. 197 was filed against kar sevaks for dacoity, robbery, causing of hurt, injuring/defiling places of public worship and promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion.
The second FIR, No. 198, was lodged against L.K. Advani and other senior BJP leaders. Those who will be charged now include Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambhara and Vishnu Hari Dalmia.
Justice Nariman, writing the judgment, said: "We are of the view that the best course in the present case would be to transfer the proceedings going on at Rae Bareli to the court of sessions at Lucknow so that a joint trial of all the offences mentioned in the joint chargesheet filed by the CBI against the persons named could proceed."