The Supreme Court will hear on Monday the plea challenging the grant of bail to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that had left eight people, including four farmers, dead.
A special bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli had on March 30 directed the Uttar Pradesh government to respond by April 4 to the two reports of a retired judge monitoring the SIT probe in the case suggesting cancellation of bail to Ashish Mishra.
The top court noted the monitoring judge had written to the state government to seek cancellation of bail granted by the Allahabad High Court to Ashish Mishra in connection with the case.
”There are two letters sent by the SIT to the Additional chief secretary (home) of the Uttar Pradesh government by the monitoring judge who had written to the state to file appeal in SC to cancel bail of main accused Ashish Mishra,” the bench had said.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the state government, had then informed the bench that the Additional Secretary, Home, had said he did not receive the letters.
The bench had then asked Jethmalani to go through the reports submitted by the SIT and respond by April 4.
Prior to that, the state government had said the decision to challenge the grant of bail was pending consideration by the relevant authorities. The top court had appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to supervise on a day-to-day basis the Uttar Pradesh SIT’s probe in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
The state government said, in accordance with the orders of the court, the families of all the victims of Lakhimpur violence case and all the witnesses, whose statements were recorded under Section 164 (by a magistrate), have been receiving continuous security under the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018.
On March 16, the top court had sought responses of the UP government and Ashish Mishra, on a plea challenging the grant of bail to him. It had also directed the state government to ensure protection of witnesses after counsel, appearing for farmers, referred to the attack on a key witness on March 10.
On October 3 last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV, in which Ashish Mishra was seated, according to the UP police FIR. Following the incident, the driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers.
A journalist also died in the violence that triggered outrage among opposition parties and farmer groups agitating over the Centre’s now-repealed agricultural reform laws.