The Allahabad high court on Thursday directed recording of evidence on a day-to-day basis by the Rae Bareli trial court in the Babri Masjid demolition case, rejecting a plea by a Vishwa Hindu Party leader.
Justices Shree Narain Shukla and Surendra Vikram Singh Rathore of the Lucknow bench of the high court gave the direction while disposing of a writ petition by VHP leader Vishnu Hari Dalmiya, who is among the eight accused in the case.
Dalmiya, through his petition, had challenged the July 22 order of the district and sessions court, Rae Bareli, asking the trial court to fix at least 10 days in a month for hearing in the case.
Besides Dalmiya, the accused include Bharatiya Janata Party leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti and Hindutva activist Sadhvi Rithambara.
The division bench was of the view that this was a fit case in which the court must exercise its inherent powers and issue necessary direction to the trial court to ensure speedy disposal of the matter.
The judges said, "When any prosecution witness is in attendance in the court, then his examination-in-chief, cross-examination or re-examination, if any, shall be recorded by the trial court on day-to-day basis until its conclusion."
Dalmiya had termed that the sessions court order as bad in the eyes of law claiming that the judge did not have the jurisdiction to give the direction.
He had contended that some of the defence lawyers were coming from far off places and faced problems attending the hearings in the court on the basis of the sessions court order.
Justices Shukla and Rathore also directed, "The case shall not be adjourned unless the witness himself is not in a position to depose on any particular date or there is some situation beyond the control of defence, which makes the proceedings impossible.
"Such an adjournment shall not be granted without recording the reasons in writing," the court said.
The court said, "It is hearby also directed that if any counsel, representing the accused persons, has any difficulty in attending the court on a particular date, then he shall ensure handing over the brief to some other advocate, so that the trial in this case may not be disturbed because of his absence."
In their order, the judges said, "Whenever witnesses in attendance are examined and cross-examined, then the next date shall be fixed for the evidence of other witnesses, which shall not be later than seven days from the date on which the evidence of the last witness was concluded."
They said the CBI, which is prosecuting the case, should ensure that on the date fixed for evidence, some prosecution witness must remain present so that for want of witnesses, the hearing was not adjourned.
The judges also observed that while fixing dates, Saturdays should not be avoided.
They said the court's registry should communicate forthwith the order to the court concerned.
Vinay Katiyar (BJP) and VHP leaders Ashok Singhal and Giriraj Kishore are also accused in the case.