The 28-year-old case of Babri Masjid demolition will see its verdict delivered today in the Lucknow court by special judge S K Yadav. Judge S K Yadav who should have retired in 2019, is on extension since he has been handling the case since 2015.
Judge Yadav will read the verdict and the judgement will likely come at around 11 am. Owing to its sensitive nature, the security around the court premises has been tightened ahead of the hearing. Originally there were 49 accused in the 1992 Babri mosque demolition case however 17 have passed away. Today the CBI special court will pronounce its judgement for the rest of the 32 accused who were asked to be present physically in the court.
The demolition of the 15th Century mosque has been a watershed moment for communal harmony in the country, costing more than 3,000 lives in the riots that followed.
The hearings – which involved evidence from 351 CBI witnesses and about 600 exhibits – ended on September 1 and the judge had started writing the judgment from the very next day to meet the deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Due to covid-19 pandemic, senior citizens have been exempted from personally appearing in the court. Key accused like LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh will unlikely be present in court at the time of delivery of verdict in Babri case. They are likely to attend the proceeding through video conference, according to advocate KK Mishra who represents 25 out of the 32 accused persons in the case.
In all 26 of the 32 accused will be present in the Lucknow court today. The verdict will be read in front of defence, CBI lawyers and the accused persons. For security reasons, entry is permitted only through one gate and barricades have been put on nearby roads to restrict traffic.
The 32 accused are facing charges under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy, rioting, promoting enmity between different groups and unlawful assembly. Shiv Sena leader Satish Pradhan and Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra Trust chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das are likely not to be present in court. Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh have tested positive for Covid-19 and are hospitalised.
The verdict in the Babri Demolition case comes roughly 11 months after the Supreme Court, in November 2019, ruled in favour of building a temple at the 2.77 acre site in Ayodhya.
A ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of the temple was held on Aug 5 which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.