SC to UP: Decide on Babri case judge in 2 weeks

The judge, who is set to retire by the end of September this year, had written to the court earlier, saying that despite best efforts, he would need six more months to conclude the matter. (File)

The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Uttar Pradesh government two weeks time to pass orders on the extension of tenure of CBI Special Judge Surendra Kumar Yadav, who is hearing the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case in which prominent BJP leaders L K Advani and M M Joshi are among the accused.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Surya Kant told Senior Advocate Aishwarya Bhati, who appeared for the UP government, that the judge had again written to them with five requests, including that he be provided security.

The bench said his requests appeared to be reasonable and asked the state to take a call on them within the two weeks time. On July 19, the apex court, while directing the extension of the tenure of the judge, had fixed a nine-month deadline for the completion of trial and pronouncement of judgment.

Judgment in this case must be delivered maximum within a period of nine months from now, the bench had ordered then. This meant that the judgement in the case will have to be delivered before 19 April, 2020.

The judge, who is set to retire by the end of September this year, had written to the court earlier, saying that despite best efforts, he would need six more months to conclude the matter. Following this, the SC had asked the UP government to inform it about the procedure for extension of service of judges.

In response, the state told the court that there was no provision for this in service rules. But the court referred to a rule under which the service of government servants may be extended till the age of 62 if such extension is required in the greater interest of justice, and reasons to be recorded in writing.

The bench said it was invoking its inherent jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution to allow extension of service to the judge only for trial of this case. It also asked the state government to pass necessary orders in consultation with the High Court within four weeks extending the tenure of the Judge.

In April 2017, the apex court, while ordering day-to-day trial in the case, had asked the special judge to complete it in two years. The top court also ordered that the judge not be transferred till the trial concludes.