Sunday, February 5, 2023

Lakhimpur Kheri case: Supreme Court to begin hearing in PIL after reopening on Wednesday

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The Supreme Court will continue its hearing on Wednesday in a PIL (writ petition criminal) in the wake of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident which led to the death of eight people including farmers and a journalist. Titled as RE- VIOLENCE IN LAKHIMPUR KHERI (UP) LEADING TO LOSS OF LIFE

The Supreme Court firstly registered it as a suo motu PIL on October 7, 2021. Later, the Court directed the Registry to convert it into a Public Interest Litigation (Writ Petition Criminal). The Court had directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to file its status report. On October 8, when the matter came up for hearing, Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for Uttar Pradesh and apprised the Court about the status of the case. 

The Court had pulled up the Uttar Pradesh Police, saying it wasn’t satisfied with the steps taken by the State in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. The Court directed State Police to preserve all the evidence in the case. After that, it had adjourned its hearing till October 20. 

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said, “The highest police officer must protect the evidence in the case. Why wasn’t the accused arrested immediately? Why are they not treated like any other citizen? The local police has not done the job properly.”

The bench had also comprised Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

During the hearing, the Court was informed by AAG Garima Prasad that a status report has been filed. Senior Advocate Harish Salve apprised the Court that the young man (Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Kumar Ajay Mishra) against whom the notice was issued has been told to show up at the police station. He said if Ashish Mishra doesn’t come, the rigours of law will follow. 

The CJI remarked: “We want the State Police to work seriously. Is this the way we treat the other accused in this way? There was a gunshot injury. Post-mortem’s not shown the gunshot injury is the ground to not arrest him. 

Salve: The case is extremely serious.

CJI: If it’s extremely serious, then we say it is not proceeding the way it should be…

Please ask DGP to ensure evidence is protected, said the Supreme Court 

Justice Surya Kant: It’s a case of brutal murder of Eight person, the law must take its course. 

CJI: What is the SIT committee? You have involved all the local people in SIT committee. Is any request made by the Govt to give it to CBI? 

Salve: No Milord, it’s in Milord’s hand. Please have this on reopening, in the meanwhile please let the police to do Investigation and milord can give it to CBI on reopening.

CJI: Salve, we have respect for you, we hope the State will take the necessary steps, we are not making any comment. CBI is also not the solution because the person involved, you can find out what better can be done. We will have it on reopening. We don’t know if the good probe is conducted in this case because of the officers involved. Please ask the DGP to ensure that the evidence is protected and not to destroy all in interim by the time another agency takes it over. 

Supreme Court Ordered

CJI: We have heard Salve, he explains the various steps they have taken by the State Govt. However we are not satisfied by the steps. The learned counsel assures that he will apprise the court about all the steps and about the investigation by an independent agency. We direct the State police officials to preserve all the evidences in the case. Matter to be listed after court reopen.

Lakhimpur Kheri case: What has happened so far

On October 9, accused Ashish Mishra was called for interrogation and after long interrogation, the UP Police arrested him and produced before the Court next day and he was sent to 14 days judicial custody. 

On October 11, he was sent to three days police remand after UP Police said it want to interrogate him about a possible “conspiracy” in the violence case.

In this case, two more persons have been arrested by the SIT, one is Ankit Das and another one is Lateef alias Kala and as of now, 6 persons were arrested in nexus with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident case. Both Ankit and Lateef alias Kala were produced before a local court on October 14, 2021, wherein they were handed over to police custody for 3 days.

On October 13, 2021, the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Chinta Ram rejected the bail applications of Ashish Mishra and his alleged accomplice Ashish Pandey. The police have intensified the probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in Uttar Pradesh and sent all four weapons of Ankit Das and Ashish Misra to the forensic lab for ballistics report.

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