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As many as 51 Uttar Pradesh officials have been named by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a case of missing files related to the Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid row.

The list was submitted by the premier investigation agency before a special bench of the Allahabad High Court Thursday.

What was being debated before the high court for the past 17 years was determination of the title over the land on which the mosque was built in the 16th century. Claiming that the mosque was erected after demolition of an ancient Ram temple that marked the birthplace of Lord Ram, violent Hindu kar sewaks had pulled down the mosque Dec 6, 1992.

However, the special bench comprising Justice D.V. Sharma, Justice S.U. Khan and Justice Sudhir Agarwal had to digress from the main issue after its attention was drawn to the missing files.

Uttar Pradesh advocate general Jyotindra Misra claimed that show-cause notices had already been issued to all employees, who were considered prima facie responsible for the missing files.

The CBI probe was ordered by the high court shortly after it was discovered that 23 files related to the Ayodhya case were missing from the state home department.

The court took serious note of the extremely slow pace of progress in the probe. The CBI had been seeking repeated extensions to complete the probe. The bench has now fixed Feb 8 for the next hearing.

CBI counsel Veereshwar Nath assured the bench that the agency would submit its report by Jan 31.

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