The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to take up on January 19, the bail petition of Ashish Mishra, an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, after noting that the trial in the case was not likely to conclude in the next five years.
Referring to the Status Report, which was submitted in the Apex Court today on the matter, the Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice V. Ramasubramanian orally observed that it would take at least five years for the trial to conclude, as the case had more than 200 witnesses.
The Bench today heard the bail application of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the October 3, 2021 incident, which led to the death of eight people, including four farmers.
In December 2022, the Apex Court had directed its Registrar to ascertain from the Additional Sessions Judge at Lakhimpur Kheri as to how much time the trial in the case on Lakhmipur Kheri violence was likely to take for conclusion.
The Bench had further directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to file an additional affidavit, giving details about the progress and pace of the investigation and proceedings on complaint filed by one Sumit Jaiswal.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the complainants, urged the Supreme Court today to hold the trial on a day-to-day basis in the main case, raising concerns over the complainants repeatedly facing threats.
Bhushan alleged that the material witnesses were threatened and badly beaten up. The Minister had threatened that a lesson would be taught. He further said that three people were brutally attacked in relation to the case.
The Bench noted the submissions and said it was aware of the situation.
The arguments evoked a sharp response from Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who represented Mishra. The Senior Counsel refuted the allegations as being totally false, while opposing the request for a day-to-day trial.
Bhushan then alleged that the government was hand-in-gloves and this was the reason for the formation of the SIT.