The Special CBI court in Lucknow hearing the Babri Masjid demolition case is likely to start recording statements of the accused, who include senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti, Brij Bhushan Saran Singh and Sakshi Maharaj, on Thursday.
After completion of examination of prosecution witnesses, the court fixed Thursday, June 4, to record statement of all accused under 313 of CrPC.
Under Section 313, a judge questions the accused on the basis of evidence put before the court during trial and the accused is given an opportunity to explain the circumstances and the allegations levelled against him.
“The court examined a total of 354 prosecution witnesses. The examination of prosecution witnesses was closed last week and as a next procedure, the court ordered for recording statements of all 32 accused under section 313 CrPC,” said Special Counsel, CBI, Lalit Kumar Singh.
He added that if accused denies evidence against them, the defence would seek permission from the court to call their witnesses to depose. Of the total 49 accused booked in the case, 17 persons have died.
In the previous hearing on May 28, the defence counsel had sought more time for appearance of the accused in court. Counsel told the court that they had conveyed the court direction to their client (s) but due to the lockdown they could not travel because some are in other states, said defence counsel Abhishek Ranjan.
Earlier, two cases were filed in Ayodhya in connection with demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. One case was related to the conspiracy of demolishing of Babri Masjid and another for instigating the crowd to demolish the structure. Around 47 more cases were registered then that were merged with the case of demolition.
The trial in the two cases was held separately. One in a Lucknow court on charges of conspiracy of the demolition of the structure, and the other in Rae Bareli court for instigating the crowd to demolish the structure.
On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ordered clubbing of the two pending cases and set up a Special Court (Ayodhya Prakaran) in Lucknow to conclude the hearing. The Supreme Court also ordered the restoration of charges against 13 accused, who were dropped from the case by the High Court earlier. The Supreme Court also ordered adding of criminal conspiracy charge against the accused then facing trial in Rae Bareli.
The charges against former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, who is among 13 accused, could not be restored in 2017 on account of constitutional immunity as he was then Governor of Rajasthan. In September last year, after Kalyan Singh lost immunity against prosecution following the end of his tenure as Governor, charges were framed against him. He is also presently out on bail.
Last month, the Supreme Court extended deadline for the special court in Lucknow till August 31, 2020, to deliver the verdict in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
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