Lakhimpur Kheri: Supreme Court directs UP government to file affidavit on protection of witnesses, against bail to Ashish Mishra


The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file a detailed affidavit on Lakhimpur Kheri incident, narrating the steps taken to protect the witnesses and also explain why bail granted to accused Ashish Mishra should be not cancelled.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana fixed March 24 as the next date of hearing.

The order was passed by the Apex Court on a petition challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni by the Allahabad High Court in the case involving the killing of eight people, including four farmers, after they were allegedly mowed down by an SUV belonging to the Union Minister’s son in Lakhimpur Kheri district, during a farmers protest last year.

The court was earlier informed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing the victims' families, that the matter had not been on the list of business, while there was an attack on one of the prime witnesses of the case as he sought an urgent hearing.

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The family members of those who had died, have challenged the High Court's order dated February 10, 2022. Calling the order 'unsustainable in law,' the petitioners said that they have approached the Supreme Court as the state government failed to file appeal against the High Court order regarding the bail.

"The lack of any discussion in the High Court’s order as regards the settled principles for grant of bail is on account of lack of any substantive submissions to this effect by the State as the accused wields substantial influence over the State government as his father is a Union Minister from the same political party that rules the State,"

-the petition stated.

"The impugned order is unsustainable in eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the State to the court in the matter contrary to the object of the first Proviso to Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides that in grave offences notice of bail application should ordinarily be given to the Public Prosecutor,"

-the petitioner added.

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"The victims were even prevented from bringing the relevant material as regards the settled principles for grant of bail to the notice of the High Court as their Counsel 'got' disconnected from the hearing on January 18 this year, before he could barely make any submissions and repeated calls to the court staff to get reconnected were to no avail,"

-the petition said.

"Contrary to settled law, the High Court failed to form its opinion on the basis of the charge sheet on broad probabilities and has instead gone on the basis of far-fetched imaginary possibilities," the petition said.