29 March 2022 8:52 AM GMT
The State of Uttar Pradesh has told the Supreme Court that the decision regarding challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra in the Lakhmipur Kheri case is "pending consideration before the relevant authorities".Responding to the petition filed by the family members of the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence of October 2021 against the Allahabad High Court's order which granted bail...
The State of Uttar Pradesh has told the Supreme Court that the decision regarding challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra in the Lakhmipur Kheri case is "pending consideration before the relevant authorities".
Responding to the petition filed by the family members of the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence of October 2021 against the Allahabad High Court's order which granted bail to Mishra, the UP Government has also refuted the petitioners' allegation that it did not effectively oppose his bail before the High Court.
"..the Respondent No.l(Ashish Mishra) Bail application was vehemently opposed by the State, and any averments to the contrary in the SLP are completely false and merit to be rejected. Furthermore, the Impugned Order being of 10.02.2022, the limitation period against the same is still running, and the decision to file SLP against the same, is pending consideration before the relevant authorities", the counter-affidavit filed by Joint Secretary to the Home Department of the UP Government stated.
It has been pointed out that not only has the State's opposition been recorded in the impugned order, but its counter affidavit before the High Court clearly stated that the State opposed the bail granted to the accused
According to the State of UP, the Impugned Order was passed on 10.02.2022, therefore the limitation period against the same is still running, and the decision to file SLP against the same, is pending consideration before the relevant authorities.
On March 15, the Supreme Court had issued notice on the special leave petition filed by the family of the victims against the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, the counsel for the petitioners, had submitted before a bench led by the Chief Justice of India that one of witnesses in the case was attacked on the day of the UP election results after the victory of the BJP in the assembly polls.
In this regard, the UP Government has said that the attack was not related to the Lakhimpur Kheri case and was a result of an altercation in relation to throwing colours during Holi celebration. Though the victim alleged in the FIR that the attackers had threatened him by saying that the BJP has returned to power and that they will see to him, during the investigation, it came out that the incident happened due to altercation during Holi celebrations, the affidavit said. Statements of four independent eye witnesses have been recorded in this connection.
The UP Government further informed the Court that it has taken steps to ensure the protection of the witnesses in the case as per the direction of the Supreme Court.
All Witnesses Receiving Continuous Security Under Witness Protection Scheme:
The State has submitted that in accordance with Supreme Court's orders in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, the families of all the victims and all the witnesses whose Section 164 statements were recorded, have been receiving continuous security under the Witness Protection Scheme 2018.
"Each witness has one armed police gunner. The families of the victims have one armed gunner each, along with permanent security guard and continuous monitoring through installed CCTV cameras, as well as barrier duty at their residence. A total of 98 persons have been provided security, of which 79 are from Kheri district, 17 from outlying districts and 2 from the State of Uttarakhand." the State has said
Witnesses Regularly Contacted: State
The State has submitted that all the witnesses are being regularly contacted by the police for appraisal of their security conditions. The witnesses were interviewed telephonically most recently on 20.03.2022 and expressed satisfaction with the security provided to them.
Further, they were informed that if they required any help in relation to their security, they should immediately contact the Superintendent of Police of their respective districts and would receive prompt assistance.
In the bail order, the High Court had observed that it is possible that the driver of the offending vehicle must have tried to speed up to protect himself from the protesters.
"..in case, the story of the prosecution is accepted, thousands of protesters gathered at the place of incident and there might be a possibility that the driver tried to speed up the vehicle to save himself, on account of which, the incident had taken place", the Court had observed.
The Court, in its order, categorically observed that primarily, only two allegations had been leveled against Mishra - firstly, of causing firearm injury to the deceased person and secondly – of provoking his driver to crush the protesters.
Regarding the first allegation, the Court observed that no firearm injury had been found on the body of the deceased or any other person, except the injury of the hitting from the vehicle.
Further, on the question of hitting the protestors, the Court opined thus:
"…in case, the story of the prosecution is accepted, thousands of protesters gathered at the place of incident and there might be a possibility that the driver tried to speed up the vehicle to save himself, on account of which, the incident had taken place."
Petition Before Supreme Court
According to the petitioners, the impugned order is perverse because the chargesheet in the case was filed on 03.01.2022, however the bail applicant did not bring the same on record before the High Court and the High Court neither considered nor dealt with the overwhelming evidence against the accused in chargesheet
The petition filed through Advocate Prashant Bhushan, has stated that 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.
Further, according to the petitioners, the observation of the High Court that, "there might be a possibility that the driver tried to speed up the vehicle to save himself, on account of which, the incident had taken place", is perverse especially when there was nothing on record to show the same.
Further, the petition has pointed out that there is evidence in fact in the chargesheet to the contrary showing that the vehicles had been dashing at high speeds of 70-100 km/hr from the time they left the venue of the 'dangal'; when they passed the petrol pump, when they crossed the police crossing; all the way to the scene of the crime; and the same has been attested to by various eye witnesses including police officials on duty.
The crime took place on October 3, when several farmers were holding protests against the visit of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to Lakhimpur Kheri district, and four protesting farmers were killed after they were mowed down by an SUV which was part of the convoy of Ashish Mishra.
The Supreme Court in November 2021 appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.
This order came from the bench headed by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, which is hearing a PIL registered on the basis of a letter petition sent by two lawyers seeking an impartial probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence of October 3.
Case Details: Jagjeet Singh & Ors vs Ashish Mishra Alias Monu & Anr