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Babri Mosque demolition case

A special CBI court hearing the Babri mosque demolition case on Tuesday expressed concern over National Informatics Centre’s failure to arrange video links to record the statements of the accused, including senior BJP leader LK Advani. The CBI court also sent a letter to Uttar Pradesh’s principal secretary (law) on this.

The court had asked the central government body, to make arrangements at the residence of 10 of the 32 accused who had opted to record their statements through video conferencing. The court was set to record statement of Ram temple trust head Mahant Nritya Gopal Das through video conferencing from Ayodhya on Tuesday. But there was no video link in place.

Others in the list include former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh and former Union minister MM Joshi.

“This court had directed the NIC to make arrangements for video links at the residence of 10 accused, but no response has come so far,” Special Judge SK Yadav said in his order. “The court will wait till June 24 and even then if no response comes, the NIC will be sent a reminder,” he added.

The statements are being recorded under section 313 of the CrPC, a stage in the trial after the examination of prosecution witnesses. The Supreme Court on May 8 had permitted the CBI court to use video conferencing. The special court offered the video link option to the accused, keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic and government guidelines on social distancing.

On Tuesday, the judge recorded statement of the 15th accused, Dharmadas, who denied his involvement in the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the alleged conspiracy.

The case pertains to the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, after which two FIRs were lodged. One FIR was filed against the kar sevaks who allegedly demolished the mosque; another FIR named Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Singh, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Katiyar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Sadhvi Rithambara, and others for “making provocative speeches” that instigated the kar sevaks.

Framed by a special CBI court in 2017, the investigation agency has charged BJP leaders Advani, Joshi, Bharti, Kalyan Singh and others of criminal conspiracy in the demolition case. The charges are based on the charge sheet filed by the CBI on October 8, 1993.