The Supreme Court on Friday said it is “not satisfied” with the action taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence on October 3 in which eight people were killed and also asked the state why accused Ashish Mishra has not been arrested yet.
Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ajay Kumar Mishra ‘Teni’ had allegedly mowed down farmers with his car. Yesterday, the police served a notice to Ashish Mishra and summoned him for questioning.
The bench of Chief Justice Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said the Uttar Pradesh government is not proceeding in the manner in which it should proceed against the accused while adding that the killing of eight people in Lakhimpur Kheri is a “brutal murder” and law must take its course against all accused. The top court asked the Uttar Pradesh government whether in other murder cases the police issue summons instead of arresting the accused.
Not arresting the accused is sending a “wrong message,” the Bench observed as the police have not arrested Ashish Mishra. The Bench further observed that transferring the case to CBI for investigation is also not a solution. “We are not making comments. CBI is not a solution for reasons known to you… because of the persons involved… better some other people look into it,” Chief Justice told senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government.
The apex court ordered the DGP of the Uttar Pradesh government to protect evidence and other materials in the case and not destroy all in the interim by the time another agency takes it over. It listed the matter for hearing on October 20 as the first case. The Bench said it hopes the State government will take necessary steps due to the sensitivity of the issue and it expects responsible government, system and police.
Salve told the Bench that what has been done by State is not satisfactory and assured it that remedial action will be taken soon. During the hearing of the case on violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, the top court expressed apprehension over the fair probe in the case because of officers involved in the case, saying that it has seen details of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the matter, and the DIG, Superintendent of Police, Circle Officers, etc are all local people.
At the outset, Salve said that that “young man (Ashish Mishra) who is being targeted has been given notice and he will appear tomorrow at 11 am”. Salve said that if he does not come, the rigour of law will take its course.
To this CJI Ramana asked Salve when there is a serious allegation of death or gunshot injury will the accused in this country be treated the same way? He further observed that charges against Mishra are very serious. Salve further said that he was told that post mortem did not show any bullet wounds and explained that it was the reason why the notice was sent under section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) notice. He added that police have found two cartridges; maybe Mishra had bad aim and missed it.
“But the manner in which car was driven, allegations are true. I am saying allegations are true and there is a case under section 302 of IPC,” Salve added. The Bench also expressed its displeasure with the media’s coverage of the incident.
Yesterday, the Bench had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file a status report on who are the accused against whom FIR has been filed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and how many of them are arrested. The Bench was hearing a letter petition by two advocates — Shiv Kumar Tripathi and CS Panda — seeking punishment for politicians allegedly involved in the ghastly incident. The letter has stated, “Having regard to the seriousness of the killing of the farmers at district Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, it is incumbent upon this Court to intervene in the matter as flashed in the press.”
A single-member Commission of Enquiry with headquarters at Lakhimpur Kheri has been constituted to investigate the death of 8 persons in Lakhimpur Kheri. Uttar Pradesh government has appointed retired Allahabad High Court judge Pradeep Kumar Srivastava as a single-member Commission to inquire about the incident and inquiry to be completed within a period of two months. Earlier, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, party MP Deepender Hooda, and Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu, reached the village and visited the victims’ families.
Local farmers blamed Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra ‘Teni’ and his son for the violence that left eight dead, including four farmers and a local journalist. They were mowed down by a vehicle that was part of the convoy of Minister in Lakhimpur Kheri in north-central Uttar Pradesh. Videos are also being circulated on social media where a Mahindra Thar was seen knocking down protesters from behind.
The Minister and his son deny the charges. Ashish Mishra and 20 others have been booked for murder but have not been arrested yet. The government gave Rs 45 lakh as compensation for each family and announced a judicial probe. Channi and Baghel also announced Rs 50 lakh compensation each to the victims’ families.