Lakhimpur Violence: SC Directs UP to Respond to SIT Reports Seeking to set aside Ashish Mishra’s Bail

The judge monitoring the SIT probe had written to the state for setting aside of bail granted by the Allahabad High Court to Ashish Mishra.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to respond by April 4 to the two reports of a retired judge, monitoring the SIT probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, which had sought setting aside of bail to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said the monitoring judge had written to the state for setting aside of bail granted by the Allahabad High Court to Ashish Mishra in connection with the case.

“There are two letters sent by the SIT to the Additional chief secretary (home) of the Uttar Pradesh government by the monitoring judge who had written to the state to file appeal in SC to cancel bail of main accused Ashish Mishra,” said the bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the state government, took instructions and informed the apex court that the Additional Secretary, Home, has stated now to us that he did not receive the letters.

The bench then asked him to go through the reports submitted by the SIT and respond to it by April 4.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the Uttar Pradesh government has submitted that they had opposed the bail in the High Court.

“It is imminent that the bail be cancelled or set aside in these circumstances as the HC verdict suffers from non application of mind,” he said. Dave also submitted that Ashish Mishra in his affidavit had relied on documents to show he was not present at the scene of crime on October 3 last year.

“The state terms these documents as doctored,” Dave said and requested the top court to take a serious view of this.

The bench said that it will hand over the report of the judge and the letters to the petitioners and the UP government counsel and posted the matter for hearing on April 4.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that decision to challenge the grant of bail by the Allahabad High Court to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that left eight people, including four farmers, dead is pending consideration before the relevant authorities.

The state government, in response to appeal filed by family members of the victims of Lakhimpur Kheri violence,  had said that the Allahabad High Court order as well as its counter affidavit would demonstrate it has vehemently opposed the bail application of Mishra.

The top court had appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to supervise on a day-to-day basis the Uttar Pradesh SIT’s probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

The state government said that as per the orders of the court the families of all the victims of Lakhimpur violence case and all the witnesses, whose Section 164 statements were recorded, have been receiving continuous security under the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018.

On March 16, the top court had sought responses of the UP government and Ashish Mishra, on a plea challenging the grant of bail to him. It had also directed the state government to ensure protection of witnesses after counsel, appearing for farmers, referred to the attack on a key witness on March 10.

On October 3 last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.

Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV following which the driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers.

A journalist also died in the violence that triggered outrage among opposition parties and farmer groups agitating over the Centre’s now-repealed agri laws.

First published by Newsclick.