14 March 2023 10:15 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday remarked that the trial in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, in which Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra is an accused, is "not slow paced".A bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and JK Maheshwari made this observation after taking note of the status reports sent by the First Additional District and Sessions Judge, Lakhimpur Khiri, U.P. The...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday remarked that the trial in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, in which Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra is an accused, is "not slow paced".
A bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and JK Maheshwari made this observation after taking note of the status reports sent by the First Additional District and Sessions Judge, Lakhimpur Khiri, U.P.
The bench also directed that the interim order passed by it on January 25, by which interim bail of 8 weeks was granted to Ashish Mishra and four accused in the counter-case, will continue to operate.
At the start of the hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mishra, said that his client had been attending all hearings before the Trial Court since his grant of bail.
The Court said that it was aware of the proceedings as the Trial Judge had been informing the Court regarding the progress in the Trial. "We are receiving reports regularly from the Trial Judge. Trial proceedings is happening. Some witnesses have been examined partly. Cross examination also taken place in part."
"Prosecution Witness-2 appeared on one day, in February. After that he did not appear on 3-4 dates. The Trial Judge imposed a fine upon him", Rohatgi added.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the victims in the case, then said that his concern was regarding the slow-pace of the Trial.
“I don't have this information (on PW2). Only one and a half witnesses have been examined, almost 200 witnesses have to be examined. I am somewhat concerned regarding the slow pace of the Trial".
This is where the Bench made the following clarification.
"We can assure you that trial is not slow paced. Chief examination of three witnesses is complete. One of them is under cross examination and it’s still incomplete. Presiding officer was absent only on one day...."
On the PW2's alleged absence, the Bench choose not to comment as it was not on record.
When Rohatgi asked if the continued monitoring of the trial was necessary, the bench replied :
"Let us continue with same status quo for some time. When the Trial is on the right path and when the proceedings will continue smoothly, in an uninterrupted manner, at that stage we might withdraw ourselves. Right now, it is required. We don't want to use the term monitoring. We are having an indirect supervision of the Trial. We will continue with that”, the Bench said.
The Bench the asked the Trial Judge to continue informing the Court of the developments regarding the Trial while posting the matter on May 16.
Eight persons lost their lives in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence of October 2021. Four farmers, who were in the group of protesters against the farm laws, were allegedly mowed down by vehicles in the convoy of Ashish Mishra. One journalist also got killed in the incident. The driver of the vehicle and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by the farmers in the counter-violence. Separate trials are happening in the case and the counter-case.
While granting interim bail to Ashish Mishra, the Supreme Court asked him to leave UP & Delhi and allowed him to enter the state only to attend the trial. The Supreme Court also suo motu granted interim bail to four farmers who are accused in the counter-case. The Court also kept Mishra's bail application pending to oversee the progress of the trial and the conduct of the accused.
Mishra was arrested by the UP Police in October 2021 after the Supreme Court, which had taken suo motu notice of the matter on the basis of a letter petition, criticised the investigation and asked if the police was "dragging its feet" in the case. The Supreme Court later reconstituted the SIT for investigation and appointed a retired High Court judge to monitor the probe,
Initially, the Allahabad High Court had granted bail to Mishra on February 10, 2022, but it was set aside by the Supreme Court in April 2022 after noting that the High Court took into account irrelevant considerations and ignored relevant factors. The bail application was then remanded to the High Court. The Supreme Court's order came in appeal filed by the relatives of the farmers who got killed in the crime.
On July 26, 2022, the High Court dismissed the bail application after re-hearing the matter, following the remand by the Supreme Court.
Case Title: Ashish Mishra Alias Monu v. State of U.P. SLP(Crl) No. 7857/2022
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