The Supreme Court today has adjourned its hearing in the Lakhimpur Kheri case till coming Monday on a request of Senior Advocate Harish Salve who appeared for the State of Uttar Pradesh.
The bench led by Chief Justice N. V. Ramana, and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli were hearing a PIL (writ petition criminal) seeking a judicial probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident which has led to the death of eight people including farmers and a journalist.
On the last hearing the Court had remarked, “it is not confident about the manner in which the evidence is being recorded by the Uttar Pradesh Special Investigation Team (SIT).”
The Court had said it wishes to appoint former Punjab and Haryana HC Judge Ranjit Singh to oversee the manner in which witnesses’ statements are being recorded and avoid mixing of the cases.
Today, Senior Advocate Harish Salve requested the bench to adjourn the matter till Monday.
Previously on November 8, the Supreme Court had expressed its displeasure at the way in which investigation is proceeding in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and said it wants the investigation should be overseen by a retired judge so as to bring “independence” and “fairness” in the investigation.
Justice Surya Kant had said,
“What it appears to us that this SIT is unable to maintain a balance in recording of evidences in the FIRs. To ensure that the evidence recorded in FIR 219 independently and recorded in FIR 220 independently and should not overlap. We are going to appoint a retired judge from other State.”
Earlier, the SC bench directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide protection to witnesses under the Witness Protection Scheme. The bench also said that the statements of other witnesses should be recorded before the judicial magistrate under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and expedite the examination of digital evidence by experts.
In the tragic Lakhimpur Kheri incident, eight people were killed of which four were farmers and one was a local journalist.