Explain delay in filing Babri plea: SC to CBI

Explain delay in filing Babri plea: SC to CBI

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the CBI to explain the delay of 167 days in filing a petition before it against an Allahabad High Court order of May 2010, dropping the charge of criminal conspiracy against senior BJP leader L K Advani and others in the Babri masjid demolition case.

A bench of Justices H L Dattu and J S Khehar told senior counsel P P Rao, representing the probe agency, to file an affidavit within a week, explaining the delay, including on the point that over three months was taken in settling the special leave petition in the office of then Solicitor General.

The court noted that considerable time was taken at the office of the senior law officer after the CBI submitted a chronological list of dates since the pronouncement of order by the HC on May 20, 2010 and February 9, 2011, the day the special leave petition (SLP) was filed.

“Having gone through the list, it is clear the delay occurred mainly due to drafting of SLP and its approval by the senior law officer. That affidavit is not before us. Let reasons for delay be explained on affidavit,” the bench said. The court gave a further one week to accused BJP and VHP leaders to file their response in the matter.

Senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad, appearing for the leaders, opposed the plea to condone the 167-day delay in filing the petition, by claiming that the CBI affidavit showed no substantial ground for allowing its request.

His argument prompted the court to ask if he had a very weak case on merits. “Do you have a very weak case on merits that you are taking such a view? We do not usually deliberate so much on deciding the question of delay in filing a petition but in this case, since there are serious objections, we are dealing with it in detail,” the court said.

On this, Prasad said that he had a very strong case but the CBI’s case was a political prosecution. The court put the matter for further hearing on April 16.

There are two cases, one against Advani and others who were on a dais in Ayodhya in December 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, while the other case was against unknown ‘karsevaks’ who were in and around the disputed structure. The first case was going on in Rae Bareilly while the second one was being tried in Lucknow.

The CBI had moved the apex court in 2011 against the Allahabad High Court’s order of May 20, 2010 dismissing its plea for revival of criminal conspiracy charges against top BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders, including M M Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara and Mahant Avaidya Nath.

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