The district court campus on Monday shut for the next two days after a lawyer tested positive for coronavirus, disrupting also the schedule of the special court hearing the Babri Masjid demolition case. Earlier, senior BJP leader L K Advani was to depose through video conferencing on Tuesday and former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi on Wednesday, the two days the court will now not sit.
Apart from the disruption in the schedule due to the COVID-19 case, the National Informatics Centre (NIC) is yet to set up a video link at the CBI court. Durga Vahini founder Sadhvi Rithambara appeared in the special CBI court on Monday, denying her involvement in the demolition of the mosque and claiming that she was framed.
District judge Anil Kumar Ojha directed that the entire campus should be closed for the next two days after being informed that a bar association office bearer had tested positive and is in hospital. The Old High Court building, Roshan-ud-Daula building and the family court will also be closed for two days for their sanitisation.
The special CBI court where the Babri Masjid trial is on is situated in the Old High Court building. Special judge S K Yadav observed that the video conferencing facility was still not functional in the court and fixed July 2 for recording the evidence of the other witnesses.
He did not pass any directions about the two accused, Advani and Joshi, whose statements were to be recorded through video conferencing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The court is currently recording the statements of 32 accused under section 313 of the CrPC, a stage in the trial that follows the examination of prosecution witnesses. Responding to questions put before her in court, Sadhvi Rithambara rejected the charge that she conspired to demolish the disputed structure.
Rithambara claimed that she was framed in the case due to political reasons. She was the 18th accused to depose before the court. Fourteen accused are still left to be examined at this stage.
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.
(With inputs from PTI)