District judge Vinod Goel, who had reserved the verdict on September 12, had fixed the case for November 10 after hearing the final arguments of the counsel for CBI and the four accused. The final arguments had begun in September, 2012.

Over 200 witnesses, including 161 prosecution witnesses and more than 40 defence witnesses, were examined in the case. Advocate Ranjan Dwivedi, who was 24-year-old at that time, was named as an accused along with four Ananda Marga group members, one of whom has died.

Apart from Dwivedi, three other accused in the case are Santoshananda Avadhuta, Sudevananda Avadhuta and Gopalji. The accused had earlier approached the Supreme Court for quashing of the trial against them in the murder case.

The apex court had on August 17, 2012 dismissed their pleas on the ground that the proceedings could not be quashed merely because they had not been concluded in the last 37 years. The charge sheet in the case was filed on November 1, 1977 in a CBI court in Patna. The case was shifted to Delhi in 1979 on a plea by the then Attorney General to the apex court.

Except Gopalji, all those listed in the charge sheet in the Mishra murder case were also named as accused in an attempt to murder case related to the bid on the life of then Chief Justice of India A N Ray in Delhi on March 20, 1975.

Santoshananda and Sudevananda were made accused in the Justice Ray case on the basis of a confessional statement of Vikram who had turned an approver for CBI. While Santoshananda and Sudevananda were awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) each, Dwivedi was sentenced to four years RI by the trial court in the attempt to murder case.

The convicts had challenged their conviction on the ground that Vikram had retracted from his confession. The Delhi High Court in August had upheld the conviction and sentence of Santoshananda and Sudevananda in the attempt to murder case but acquitted Dwivedi in the case.

During the final arguments, the CBI prosecutor had asked the court to consider the testimonies of two accused-turned- approvers in the case saying their statements were important. The prosecutor had said testimonies of Vikram and Madan Mohan Srivastava, alias Visheshwarananda, as approvers must be taken into account because they had participated in the conspiracy to kill Mishra in 1975 and they knew the entire details of the case.

Defence counsel Firoz Ahmed, however, had argued that Vikram was still absconding and bailable as well as non- bailable warrants were issued against him but he has still not been arrested. The counsel had contended how the court can rely on the statement of such a person (Vikram) who was absconding and had given wrong details in the court.

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