The Supreme Court on Friday fixed a nine-month deadline for completion of trial and pronouncement of judgment in the Babri Masjid demolition case, in which prominent BJP leaders L K Advani and M M Joshi are among the accused.
“Judgment in this case must be delivered maximum within a period of nine months from now,” a bench of Justices R F Nariman and Surya Kant ordered while directing that the tenure of the Special Judge S K Yadav hearing the matter be extended till the judgment is delivered.
Friday’s order means that judgment in the case will have to be delivered before April 19, 2020.
The judge who is set to retire by the end of September this year had written to the court saying that despite best efforts, he would need six more months to conclude the matter.
Following this, the Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to inform it about the procedure for extension of service of judges.
Appearing for the state government, Senior Advocate Aishwarya Bhati told the bench on Friday 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 years 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 in this case.
It asked the state government to pass necessary orders in consultation with the High Court within four weeks extending the tenure of the judge who is scheduled to retire on September 30.
The court also directed the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit about the steps taken.
In April 2017, the apex court had asked the special judge to complete the trial in two years. The top court also ordered that the judge should not be transferred till the trial concludes.
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