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CBI busy preparing questionnaires to confront Babri Masjid demolition accused

Recording of statements may now be delayed due to the nationwide lockdown, a special court in Lucknow was to record statements starting Tuesday

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2020, 08.13 AM IST
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Agencies
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The special CBI court is likely to seek a final extension from the Supreme Court to conclude the trial.

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation is busy preparing detailed questionnaires to confront all the 32 accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, even as the recording of their statements may now get delayed due to the nationwide lockdown.

A special court in Lucknow was to record their statements starting Tuesday, when one of the three accused initially summoned by the court was to appear before it. The agency had prepared a list of over 1,000 questions to confront the accused, Vijay Bahadur, said people with direct knowledge of the matter. They indicated that other accused, including top BJP leaders such as LK Advani, Murali Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, would also likely be confronted with thousands of questions.

To ensure that no time is wasted on account of unavailability of an accused on a given date, the agency will submit names of at least three accused to the court for summoning at a time. “It may so happen that on a given date, one accused is unavailable. The court, in that eventuality, will summon the other accused so that the trial is not delayed,” a senior official said, requesting anonymity.

After more than a decade since the Babri Masjid trial commenced, the court was set to record the statements of the accused for the first time under Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

In a related development, the special CBI court is likely to seek a final extension from the Supreme Court to conclude the trial.

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On April 19, 2017, the SC had ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years in the case. On July 19, 2019, it extended the special CBI judge's tenure till the completion of the trial and delivery of verdict. The apex court had said the extension of the tenure of the special judge, who was to retire on September 30, 2019, would only be for the purpose of concluding the trial and delivering the verdict in the case. The judge was also asked by the top court to deliver the verdict within nine months. That deadline is April 18.

“Given the voluminous record and evidence, it is impossible to conclude the questioning of the accused by then. The entire procedure (of recording statements of the accused) may take around four months. Hence, the court will have to seek an extension from the apex court,” said another official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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