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Speedy trial of Babri cases demanded
By Khadijatul Kubra, Lucknow

When BJP-led Uttar Pradesh Government on 22March took a U-turn in praying the Special Bench of the Allahabad High Court to ensure a ‘speedy trial’ of the title suits in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi property dispute, the people were surprised and questioned the real motive behind the move.

Now, the Sunni Central Board of Waqf, the main plaintiff in the title suit had filed a counter affidavit blasting the Rajnath Singh Government move as ‘mala fide’. The Government application for the speedy trial have been moved ‘with a mala fide intention and motive to give impression that as if the State Government, led by the BJp was serious in getting the suits decided expeditiously whereas the Central Government also led by the same party, has done nothing to enable this Honourable High Court to spare three judges ... to relieve themselves from other judicial work’ to deal exclusively to the vexed Ayodhya issue and its speedy trial.

Declaring that they had ‘no objection even if the hearing of the suits is conducted on day-to-day basis even with the present strength of judges in the court, Mohammad Hashim, an Ayohdya resident replying on behalf of the Waqf Board in his counter affidavit before the three judge Special Bench says that if the BJP is really interested in getting the hearing of suits expedited, the Vajpayee Government should immediately fill up the vacancies in the Allahabad High Court so that the Chief Justice may not be ‘compelled to allot any other judicial work to the Special Bench hearing these suits’.

Referring to the U.P. Government self-contradictory prayer that ‘it would be expedient in the interest of justice that the trial of the suits may go on from day-to-day so that there is no break in the recording of the evidences of witnesss as the break in between leads to more lengthy cross-examination’, the counter affidavit says that ‘the plaintiff (i.e Waqf Board) have been demanding since long that the trial of the suits may go on from day-to-day and As such the plaintiff shall welcome the same.

Moving a step forward, he demanded that ‘the unnecessary and uncalled for lengthy cross-examination can also be curtailed by fixing some time limit for each counsel as was done by the Supreme Court during the course of hearing of the reference number 1 of 1993’.

Mohammad Hashim, through his counsel Mr Zafaryab Jilani however opposed State Government's plea of recording evidence through a single judge, saying ‘the application for recording of evidence by a single judge has already been rejected by the Chief Justice on December 17, 1991 while disposing of civil miscellaneous application number 32 (O) of 1991 and as such, the same prayer cannot now be entertained again’.

So far as the demand of the State Government that the matter of recording of evidence on commission at the place of residence of recording of the witness was concernED, the Waqf Board says that’...the cross examination of Shri Mahant Ramchandra Das was concluded speedily simply because counsels representing the Muslim parties had confined to relevant questions only and had not vasted the court time by raising unnecessary or irrelevant questions'. Against the state Government’s contention that ‘the trial of original suits commenced before a Full Bench of three Judges...on 14th August, 1989 and has ben going on ever since without its end in sight’, the Waqf Board says that ‘it was incorrect to say that there is no end in sight for the trials of the suits in question. the constitution of benches may be verified from the record’.

The matter is part head by the Full/Special Bench of the Allahabad High Court, comprising Mr Justice D. K. Trivedi, Mr Justice Syed Rafat Alam and Mr Justice Bhanwar Singh. Justice Trivedi is due to retire in July this year and the CJ will have to reconstitute the Bench.

Babri: CBI files review petition
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a review petition in the high court in Lucknow challenging the special CBI court order dropping proceedings against 21 accused, including Union Ministers LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati, in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The petition filed on 19 June, has sought a direction, against the special court's order of May 4, to proceed against all the 47 accused for their role in the demolition of the ‘disputed structure’ at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

Proceedings against 21 accused were dropped after the high court held the government notification transferring their case to the special court as technically ‘invalid’ since it was issued without the mandatory consultation with the high court.

It said the government was free to rectify the mistake by issuing a fresh notification, but the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government did not oblige claiming that there was no judicial direction for the same.

Meanwhile, another accused in the Ayodhya case NR Srivastava, the then district magistrate of Faizabad, has also filed a petition in the high court challenging the order of the special court, which did not grant any relief to him.

The CBI move came amidst Congress allegations that the agency's recommendation to advise the state government to issue a fresh notification had been pending with the Centre for over a month. Samajwadi Party has said that if it came to power after the next state elections its government will issue the required modified notification.

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