Expressing displeasure over a tweet posted by a media organisation which falsely claimed that Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana had met the kin of victims of Lakhmipur Kheri violence, the Supreme Court Friday said it respects the media and their independence but this is “not at all fair”.
The apex court, which was hearing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence matter, termed the tweet “very unfortunate” and said the media should verify the facts.
“We are sorry to observe that somebody is exceeding the limit of freedom of speech. They should verify the facts. These are all false representations which is being done,” said a bench, comprising the CJI and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The issue cropped up when an advocate told the bench that on Thursday, a media organisation had posted a tweet which said the CJI had met the kin of victims of Lakhimpur Kheri incident.
“All of us are at the receiving end of irresponsible tweets. I have seen some about myself also,” said senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government.
CJI Ramana said, “They must have some sense because I was sitting in the court. How can I go to Lucknow and visit the family.” “Leave it there. We should not bother about these things. In public life, we have to receive..,” the CJI said.
Justice Surya Kant said the court expects they should come out with a bona fide and voluntary report to say “this is what we have done”.
“We respect the media and their independence but this is not the way to cross it. This is not at all fair,” Justice Kohli said.
“It is part and parcel of public life. Let it be,” the CJI said.
The top court said it is not satisfied with the steps taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case in which eight persons were killed on October 3.
The bench told Salve to communicate to the top most police official that evidence and other relevant materials in the case are not destroyed. The court has posted the matter for hearing on October 20.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre’s three new farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3.
Two BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by the angry protesters, while a local journalist was also killed in the violence.
An FIR under section 302 of the IPC has been registered against the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra and others in the incident in Tikonia police station but no arrest has been made so far.
Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down the protesters but the minister has denied the allegations.
Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of three laws — The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 since last November.
The apex court had stayed the implementation of these laws in January.
Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. (PTI)