Thursday, November 30, 2023

Lakhimpur Kheri violence case: Supreme Court dissolves SIT on completion of probe

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The Supreme Court on Monday dissolved the special investigation team (SIT) it constituted to probe the October 2021 incident of Lakhimpur Kheri involving Ashish Mishra, son of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ajay Kumar Mishra, after noting that investigation into the matter had completed and a trial was currently underway.

Noting that the special investigation team has become functus officio, the Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Dipankar Datta relieved former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Rakesh Kumar Jain, who was appointed to supervise the probe, of his responsibilities.

The orders were passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) registered on the court’s own motion after two Uttar Pradesh-based lawyers wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of India seeking an independent inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with respect to the incident.

During the course of hearing today, the Apex Court noted that the special investigation team under the supervision of former judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court Rakesh Kumar Jain had completed its probe in January 2022 in connection with the two FIRs filed in the case and subsequently filed the charge sheets. 

The Bench also took in view a letter sent by SP Shiradkar, who headed the SIT in July 2023. The IPS officer, who was currently posted as Lucknow Police Commissioner, had mentioned subsequent events in his communication. 

The top court of the country expressed that it was ‘satisfied’ by the probe at this stage and thus, was relieving the SIT and Justice Jain of their responsibilities. 

However, it clarified that if any necessity arose to reconstitute the special investigation team or any related issue, an appropriate order shall be passed.

Additional Advocate-General of Uttar Pradesh Garima Prashad represented the state in the court today.

On October 3, 2021 violence erupted in Lakhimpur Kheri district’s Tikunia area after four farmers protesting against the then Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area were allegedly mowed down by a vehicle in the convoy of Ashish Mishra. The enraged villagers then allegedly lynched the driver of the SUV, two BJP workers and a journalist.

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