New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday sought a reply from the government on its delay in challenging a high court verdict discharging BJP leader L.K. Advani and 20 others in the Babri Masjid demolition conspiracy case.
The apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice J.S. Khehar asked the government to file an affidavit explaining the delay.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) moved the apex court Feb 18, 2011, nearly nine months after the Allahabad High Court verdict of May 20, 2010, discharged Advani and 20 others of the charges of criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh over 20 years ago.
Senior counsel P.P. Rao, appearing for the CBI, told the court that the delay was on account of the long time taken by the office of the then solicitor general in settling the special leave petition.
The court adjourned the matter for two weeks, giving one week to the government to file its affidavit to explain the delay on account of the law officer and one week to Advani and others for filing their replies.
Taking note of an affidavit filed by the CBI, the apex court said that the investigating agency could not be faulted for the delay and directed a "responsible law officer" to file the government affidavit explaining the delay.
Rao said then solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, who was to settle the appeal against the Allahabad High Court order, was busy with the 2G case.
Senior counsel Ravi Shankar Prasad, appearing for Advani, opposed the CBI plea seeking the condoning of the delay.
"Do you have a weak case on merits?" asked the judges, adding that normally people challenge the condonation of delay if they have a weak case.
"I have a very strong case on merit," Prasad told the court as it adjourned the matter.
The CBI in its appeal before the apex court said that the high court verdict discharging Advani and others of the offence of criminal conspiracy "is inconsistent with the previous judgment rendered by the Allahabad High Court on Feb 12, 2001".