LK Advani and other top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be tried for criminal conspiracy in the demolition of the 16th-century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the Indian Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, agreeing with a request from the country's premier investigating agency, the CBI, NDTV reports.
Judges have also ordered daily hearings to meet a 2-year-deadline for a verdict.
Mr Advani, 89, was originally and along with party colleagues like Uma Bharti and Murli Manohar Joshi, charged with making inflammatory speeches that motivated lakhs of right-wing volunteers or karsevaks to pull down the mosque in 1992. That trial was being held in Rae Bareli.
Others who will face criminal conspiracy charges are Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Ritambara, Satish Pradhan, Champat Rai Bansal and the late Giriraj Kishore, the SC ruled.
Now, the BJP leaders, facing far more serious charges, will be tried in Lucknow, where, so far, a separate case is dealing with about 20 people accused of the actual demolition of the mosque. By combining the two trials, the judges want to ensure that a verdict is delivered within two years. Kalyan Singh, former Chief Minister, is currently a governor, so he has immunity from prosecution. His trial will begin after his term in office ends.
The apex court issued the order while hearing a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging withdrawal of charges against Advani and other top BJP leaders in the case.
"We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgement with certain directions," a bench comprising Justices PC Ghose and RF Nariman said.
In 2010, the Allahabad High Court had disagreed with the CBI about filing criminal conspiracy charges against the BJP veterans, which meant that the leaders' case continued to be heard in Rae Bareli.