The Supreme Court Tuesday gave the solicitor general's office a week to explain the delay in challenging the Allahabad high court order that dropped the conspiracy charge against BJP's LK Advani and 20 others in the Babri demolition case.
It said the CBI, which appealed against the HC order, wasn't responsible for the delay.
It was responding to the plea taken by the counsel for Advani and others that the CBI petition should be rejected on grounds of delay.
"You can't expect the CBI to sit on a senior law officer's head and force him to file the appeal," the bench said after perusing a list of dates submitted by the CBI.
"The CBI completed its formalities well within time."
It emerged that the appeal was held by back by 167 days as the papers remained in the SG's office for three months. Gopal Subramaniam was the solicitor general at that time.
The CBI moved the top court on February 18, 2011, nearly nine months after the HC on May 20, 2010 discharged Advani and others of the charge of criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.
The court allowed senior advocate PP Rao, appearing for the CBI, to also file an affidavit on behalf of an agency officer giving reasons for the delay. The case will now be heard on April 16.
"The delay was on the part of the solicitor general. So, an affidavit from the concerned person would facilitate us to understand the delay," the bench of justice HL Dattu and justice JS Khehar said.
Other against whom charges were dropped include BJP leaders Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Murli Manohar Joshi.