Promotion distress for Babri case judge

The trial court judge adjudicating the Babri Masjid demolition case has requested the Supreme Court to modify its April 2017 order to spare him the embarrassment of being denied a promotion in the "twilight" of his career.

By R. Balaji
  • Published 11.09.18
  •  
The Supreme Court. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: The trial court judge adjudicating the Babri Masjid demolition case has requested the Supreme Court to modify its April 2017 order to spare him the embarrassment of being denied a promotion in the "twilight" of his career.

Surendra Kumar Yadav, additional district and sessions judge, Lucknow, said he was seeking the modification to the limited extent that the order might not be interpreted to deny him promotion to the rank of a district and sessions judge.

A bench of Justices R.F. Nariman and Indu Malhotra issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government seeking its response.

The top court also sought a sealed-cover report within a week on how the trial was progressing.

Earlier this year, on June 1, Allahabad High Court had promoted Judge Yadav to district and sessions judge and transferred him to Budaun district from Lucknow.

But the high court had rescinded the promotion order the same day after noticing that the top court had on April 19 last year said the judge trying the demolition case cannot be transferred till the trial had ended within two years, which means April 19, 2019.

That prompted Judge Yadav to challenge the high court's decision in the top court.

In his application before the top court he pleaded that he was due for superannuation and the order cancelling his transfer had embarrassed him and his family.

The judge said he has had an unblemished 28-year career but "the applicant (judge) and family are embarrassed and humiliated in (the) twilight of his service" because of the cancellation order.

He said his batch mates had been elevated to district and sessions judges and urged the top court to modify its April 2017 order in such a way so as not to deny him the promotion.

The judge pleaded that he was seeking the top court's intervention to the limited extent that its April 2017 order "may not be interpreted to deny promotion to the applicant as district judge".

The application, the judge added, had been filed "bonafidely and in the interests of justice".

The judge in his application also said that charges had already been framed against all the accused since he took over the trial. Out of 1,026 witnesses, 470-odd are yet to testify.

On April 19 last year the top court had directed that conspiracy charges against senior BJP leaders Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and 12 others be revived.

The court said conspiracy charges would also be revived against former BJP chief minister Kalyan Singh but after his current tenure as governor of Rajasthan ends.

The court had directed that Advani and the others be charged with criminal conspiracy under the penal code's Section 120(B) along with other pending charges under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements and rumours, etc., circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace). All the sections carry a maximum jail term of five years.

The court had passed the judgment while upholding an appeal the CBI had filed against a 2010 order of Allahabad High Court. The high court had upheld a Rae Bareli special court's decision in May 2001 to discharge the accused of charges of criminal conspiracy under Section 120B.

The top court had said the trial judge would take up all the matters on a day-to-day basis and the case could not be adjourned on any ground except when the sessions court found it impossible to hold the trial on a particular date. If that happened, the reasons would have to be recorded in writing.

"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," Justice Nariman, who had authored the judgment, had said.

"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."