New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that the verdict in the Babri Masjid demolition cases, involving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, LK Advani, MM Joshi and others, must be delivered within nine months.

The apex court is dealing with the issue of the trial yet to be completed but the judge set to retire in September. CBI judge SK Yadav, who has been hearing the joint trial of the dual demolition cases and as he is retiring on September 30, had written to Supreme Court, stating he will need more time to complete the trial in the high-profile case. The apex court has, therefore, extended the tenure of the judge.

During the last hearing, the apex court on July 15 had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to suggest a way out after the sessions judge sought six months more.

In April 2017, the Supreme Court had given the trial judge two years to complete the trial after reviving the criminal conspiracy charge against BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders, including Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti, in connection with the demolition of the mosque on December 6, 1992.

The court also clubbed two cases, one in Lucknow and the other in Rae Bareli, together. The Lucknow case is against kar sevaks and deals with demolition and violence. The Rae Bareli case is against the BJP and Sangh leaders for making inflammatory speeches.

Back then, the court had told the judge to hold daily trials. It also forbade the transfer of the judge and also adjournments. The court also said that any grievances should directly be addressed to it.

Besides Advani, Joshi and Bharti, the court had ordered the Lucknow court to frame conspiracy charge against Vinay Katiar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Vishnu Hari Dalmia, Champat Rai Bansal, Satish Pradhan, Dharam Das,  Ram Bilas Vadanti, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahamadleshwar Jagdish Muni, Satish Chandra Nagar and Vaikunth Lal Sharma.

At the time, the court had pointed a finger at the conduct of the CBI for not pursuing its efforts for a joint trial of the Rae Bareli and Lucknow cases even though a single judge of the Allahabad High Court had upheld their composite charge sheet in a February 12, 2001 order.

The court also blamed the Uttar Pradesh government for refusing to cure a “technical defect” which gave enough room for 21 accused, including Advani, to get a sessions court to drop proceedings against them on May 4, 2001. Together, both cases have over 900 witnesses waiting to testify.