Ayodhya demolition case: Special CBI court records statement of one accused

Lucknow, Jun 5 (PTI) A special CBI court trying the 1992 Babri masjid demolition case on Friday recorded the statement of an accused, allowing him to explain away some evidence against him over his role in razing the disputed structure.

The Special CBI Court (Ayodhya Prakaran) had earlier summoned five accused, including former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti, to record their statements under section 313 of the Cr P C, enabling them to explain away the prosecution evidence against them.

Special Judge S K Yadav, however, was able to record the statement of only one accused, Gandhi Yadav, due to the paucity of time.

The judge accordingly asked other four accused, summoned earlier, to appear before him again on Saturday for recording of their statements.

Besides Gandhi and Vedanti, the five accused, who appeared in the court on Friday in response to its summonses, were Vijay Bahadur Singh, Pawan Pandey, Santosh Dubey.

The court also asked the accused to furnish in writing their defense evidence, if any, after recording of their statements under section 313 of the CrPC was over.

A total of 32 persons are facing trial in the 1992 demolition case. They include former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, besides veteran BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara and Sakshi Mahara.

Till further orders, Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti have been exempted from the personal appearance during the trial.

The examination of accused under CrPC section 313 follows the stage of examining prosecution witnesses and is aimed at giving the accused an opportunity to explain the prosecution evidence against them.

The disputed Babri Masjid structure was demolished on December 6, 1992 by 'karsevaks' who had claimed that the mosque in Ayodhya was built after destroying an ancient temple on the site of Ram Jamabhoomi.

The prosecution had wrapped up the examination of its witnesses by March 6 and the court had asked some of the accused to appear before it on March 24 for recording of their statements under Section 313 of the CrPC.

But the proceedings could not take place as courts in Lucknow had been closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

When the proceedings resumed on May 18, the defense counsel moved the court to summon three prosecution witnesses in order to cross examine them. This was allowed.

On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered the special judge to conduct a day-to-day trial and conclude it within two years.

Calling the demolition of the disputed structure a crime which shook the 'secular fabric of the Constitution', the apex court had allowed the CBI plea on restoration of the charge of criminal conspiracy against the VIP accused.

The apex court had termed the Allahabad High Court's February 12, 2001 verdict dropping the charge of conspiracy against Advani and others as 'erroneous'.

On May 8 this year, the top court set a new deadline for the special judge, asking him to deliver the verdict by August 31.

Before the 2017 verdict of the apex court, there were two sets of cases relating to the demolition, going on in Lucknow and Raebareli.

The first case involving unnamed 'karsevaks' proceeded in a Lucknow court while the the second set of cases relating to eight VIPs was being heard in a Raebareli court. The cases were then clubbed.

Last year, another bench of the Supreme Court settled the land dispute over the site where the mosque stood.

The apex court allowed the construction of a Ram temple at the site and ordered the allocation of a separate plot in Ayodhya for building a mosque. PTI CORR SAB RAX RAX