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[Lakhimpur Kheri] 'Concerned About Guaranteeing Impartial, Just & Fair Investigation' : Supreme Court Appoints Monitoring Judge, Reconstitutes SIT

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
17 Nov 2021 2:47 PM GMT
[Lakhimpur Kheri] Concerned About Guaranteeing Impartial, Just & Fair Investigation : Supreme Court Appoints Monitoring Judge, Reconstitutes SIT
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While appointing a retired High Court judge to monitor the Lakhmipur Kheri case probe and also reconstituting the Special Investigation Team of the Uttar Pradesh Police with IPS officers, the Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that it is "concerned about guaranteeing an impartial, fair, just and thorough investigation into the incident which has resulted in such a tragic loss of lives...

While appointing a retired High Court judge to monitor the Lakhmipur Kheri case probe and also reconstituting the Special Investigation Team of the Uttar Pradesh Police with IPS officers, the Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that it is "concerned about guaranteeing an impartial, fair, just and thorough investigation into the incident which has resulted in such a tragic loss of lives of protesters as well as some other persons".

A bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli has appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the investigation.

"This Court is equally concerned about guaranteeing an impartial, fair, just and thorough investigation into the incident which has resulted in such a tragic loss of lives of protesters as well as some other persons", the bench observed in the order.

The Court had earlier expressed disapproval of the slow pace, manner and outcome of the investigation of the case, in which Ashish Mishra the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Mishra is the prime accused. Ashish Mishra was arrested only after the Court expressed sharp remarks criticizing the approach of the Uttar Pradesh Police. The case relates to the death of four farmers and one journalists, who were allegedly mowed down by vehicles in the convoy of Ashish Mishra, and also the killing of three persons in the mob violence which followed.

"Earlier hereto, we have expressed our disapproval on the slow pace, manner and outcome of the investigation conducted so far, as well as the composition of the SIT charged with investigating the matter", the bench noted in the order.

The bench emphasized that justice must not only be done, but also be seen and perceived to be done.

"While investigating such offences, justice must not only be done, but also be seen and perceived to be done. We thus deem it appropriate to re­-constitute the SIT hereinafter to preserve the faith and trust of people in the Criminal Administration of the Justice System. Further, to assure full and complete justice to the victims of crime, we are inclined to order that the ongoing investigation be monitored by a retired High Court Judge, who too may not have his roots in the State of Uttar Pradesh. We, therefore, appoint Justice (Retd.) Rakesh Kumar Jain, a former Judge of the Punjab &Haryana High Court, to monitor the ongoing investigation so as to ensure transparency, fairness and absolute impartiality in the outcome of the investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident which is to be conducted in a time­bound manner".

The bench also reconstituted the SIT with three IPS Officers belonging to UP cadre, but who do not belong to UP. The Court passed this order after noting that the SIT predominantly comprises of  middle level/sub­ordinate level police officers posted in district Lakhimpur Kheri.

"It appears to us that in spite of their perceived commitment and sincerity in carrying out the investigation, there may still be a lurking suspicion in respect of the fairness and  independence of such an investigation. We, therefore, deem it appropriate to direct re­constitution of the SIT infused with directly recruited IPS officers who do not hail from the State of U.P. though are allocated to U.P. Cadre".

The following are the IPS officers included in the SIT.

1. Mr. S.B. Shiradkar IPS, Batch RR 1993­ ADG Intelligence HQ, hailing from Nanded, Maharashtra. (Head of SIT)

2. Ms. Padmaja Chauhan, IG, IPS­RR 1998

3. Dr. Preetinder Singh, DIG, IPS­RR 200

The newly constituted SIT shall be free to seek assistance from,  and/or associate with or include the local police of Lakhimpur Kheri for taking the ongoing investigation to its logical conclusion under the continuous monitoring of the learned Monitoring Judge.

The SIT shall make all efforts to conclude the investigation expeditiously and file the charge­sheet, the Court ordered.

The State of Uttar Pradesh was directed to provide all perks, facilities, emoluments, secretarial assistance and any other related requirements equivalent to the post of a sitting High Court Judge (minus the pension) to the learned Monitoring Judge.

Click here to read/download the order


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