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Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Supreme Court pulls up Uttar Pradesh police, directs it to preserve evidence

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The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on the state police department of Uttar Pradesh for “not doing their job properly” regarding investigation into the violent incident at Lakhimpur Kheri district that claimed eight lives and directed the “highest police officer to protect the evidence”.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana and also comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli said, “We are not satisfied with the investigation. 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.”

Make your pudding more palatable: Justice Hima Kohli to Harish Salve

During the hearing, the Court was informed by AAG Garima Prasad that a status report has been filed. Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the state of Uttar Pradesh, said, “The young man (Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra) against whom the notice was issued, we have asked him to show up tomorrow at 11 a.m. If he doesn’t come, the rigours of law will follow.” 

The CJI observed, “The FIR is under Section 302 IPC you see, we should treat all accused as same…”

Salve replied, “There wasn’t a gun shot injury, we have given him a notice. The way the car was driven, if it’s true, possibly a 302 IPC case. 

Justice Hima Kohli then told Salve, “Possibly? You should make your pudding more palatable.” 

Salve said, “If this evidence is true, then it’s a 302 IPC.” 

Post-mortem not showing gun shot injury, is this the ground not to arrest him: Supreme Court

The CJI remarked, “We want the State Police to work seriously. Is this the way we treat the other accused? There was a gun shot injury. Post-mortem not showing the gun shot injury is the ground to not arrest him.” 

Salve replied, “The case is extremely serious.”

Justice Ramana retorted, “If it’s extremely serious, then we say it is not proceeding the way it should be…”

Salve said, “I have spoken to senior police officers. They should have done the needful. I am not saying, that…

The CJI wanted to know, “What is the message we are sending to the society?”

Salve replied, “If nothing happens, the warrant will be issued.”

Case of a Brutal Murder: Supreme Court

Justice Surya Kant said, “It’s a case of brutal murder of eight persons, the law must take its course.” 

Salve then said, “What has happened, has happened…”

The CJI asked, “What is the SIT committee? You have involved all the local people in SIT committee. Is there any request made by the state government to give it to CBI?” 

Salve replied, “No Milord, it’s in Milords’ hands. Please have this on reopening, in the meanwhile please let the police do the investigation and Milord can give it to CBI on reopening.”

CJI said, “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.”

Justice Surya Kant observed, “The state must take all steps.”

Salve replied, “As rightly said by my lady, we have to make a pudding more palatable.” 

CJI- We dont 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 destroy all in interim by the time another agency takes it over. 

Sorry to see how media is exceeding the freedom of speech and expression: Supreme Court 

Advocate Aditya said, “A tweet by TimesNow said CJI met the kin of Lakhimpur.” 

The CJI replied, “These all things happen in media.” 

Justice Kant said, “We are sorry to see how media is exceeding the freedom of speech and expression. CJI is gracious enough to let this go, else proceedings could take place.” 

The CJI replied, “This is absurd, how can I go to Lucknow?”

Justice Hima also observed, “We respect the freedom of media, but this is not the way to cross the limits.” 

The Order 

The Bench, led by CJI ordered, “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 the court reopens.”

The Apex Court adjourned the hearing and listed the matter immediately on reopening, on October 20 at 10:30 a.m.

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