16 March 2022 5:59 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice in a special leave petition filed by the family members of the farmers who got killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri crime challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, by the Allahabad High Court.In response to the petitioner's contention that a prime witness in the matter has been attacked, a Bench comprising CJI...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice in a special leave petition filed by the family members of the farmers who got killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri crime challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, by the Allahabad High Court.
In response to the petitioner's contention that a prime witness in the matter has been attacked, a Bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli has asked the State of UP to see that the witnesses are protected.
"Madam, what is this? They are saying a witness has been attacked. You have to file detailed counter. See that witnesses are protected. We'll list immediately after Holi," CJI said while addressing State Counsel Advocate Ruchira Goel
The Bench has asked the State to file a detailed counter affidavit in the matter. The Court will hear the matter next on 24th March 2020.
During the hearing today, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave and Advocate Prashant Bhushan appeared for the petitioners.
Mr Dave informed the Court that the High Court Judge while granting bail has misdirected himself on principles of grant of bail specially when trial court refused bail.
"See what has influenced him. Sufficient material has come on record to pin him down in chargesheet. FIR isn't sacrosanct investigation is important," Mr Dave said
Mr Bhushan informed the Court that the State has already been served.
On the last occasion a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli had opined that the Bench who had heard the original case seeking investigation into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence should consider the present matter. The matter was therefore listed before the present bench.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner had told the Supreme Court that one of the prime witnesses in the Lakhimpur Kheri case was brutally attacked and was told that, he will be taken care of now that BJP has won the State elections.
"After bail was granted to him (Mishra), one of the prime protected witnesses was brutally attacked. The people who attacked him said, wow that BJP has won election they'll take care of him", Mr Bhushan said
The court was hearing a special leave petition filed by the family members of the farmers who got killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri crime challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, by the Allahabad High Court.
The matter was listed before the Court after urgent listing of the case was sought by Advocate Prashant Bhushan informing the court that one of the witnesses in the Lakhimpur Kheri case was attacked.
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.
While considering the overall facts of the case, the Court observed that it cannot shut its eyes to the killing of three persons sitting in the Thar vehicle, including the driver, who were killed by the protesters.
The Court also noted that the photograph available in the case diary clearly revealed the brutality of the protesters, who were beating the said three persons, namely, Hariom Mishra, Shubham Mishra, and Shyam Sunder.
The Court also took into account the conclusion arrived at by the Investigating Officer of the case that after the said incident of hitting of the protesters by the Thar vehicle, the protesters had chased Shubham Mishra, Hariom Mishra, and Shyam Sunder and they were beaten brutally, on account of which, they died.
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.
Essentially, a case was registered against Mishra for an incident that 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.
Allegedly, the SUV was part of the convoy of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Mishra (Ashish Mishra's father).
Thereafter, the police had filed a first information report against Ashish Mishra (son of minister Ajay Kumar Mishra) and several others in connection with the violence case under Section 302 IPC.
The Uttar Pradesh Police on January 3 had filed a charge sheet in the Lakhimpur Kheri Violence case before a local Court in Lakhimpur naming Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son, Ashish Mishra as the prime accused.
It may be noted that in December, the Special Investigation Team of the Uttar Pradesh police that is probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident had said before the Lakhimpur local Court that there was a planned conspiracy to kill the people present during the incident.
" It appears from the probe that has been conducted and material collected till now that the said act wasn't a negligent act committed by the accused, rather, it was done intentionally as per premeditated plan to kill...", the application filed by the SIT avers.
Further, the police had also prayed before the Court that Sections 304A (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 279 (negligent driving), and 338 (causing grievous hurt) against all accused be removed and instead, Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (causing hurt with dangerous weapon), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), and 3/25 Arms Act be registered against them.
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
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