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Supreme Court adjourns hearing in Lakhimpur Kheri case to March 16

The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing by a day on a petition challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, accused of killing farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, during a farmers protest last year.

The matter was to come up before the Bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, which heard the case earlier. However, it was mentioned before the Court that Justice Surya Kant was not there today with the CJI. So, the Court adjourned the hearing for tomorrow.

The plea was filed by the family members of the victims, who sought cancellation of the bail granted to Ashish Mishra 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.

The court was earlier informed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan — who is 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.

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 appeal against the court’s 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.

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“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.

“Even the victims were prevented from bringing the relevant material as regards the settled principles for grant of bail to notice of 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 and application filed by the victims/petitioners,”

-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.

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Notably, since Ashish Mishra was granted bail ahead of the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, opposition parties had criticized the move saying it was aimed at leveraging “Brahmin votes”.

On Monday, the minister cited “good law and order situation” in the state as the reason for the BJP’s win in the assembly polls. The ruling party had won all eight seats in Lakhimpur.

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