While hearing the bail plea of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, in connection with the farmer killings in Lakhimpur Kheri on Friday, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Trial Court to fix the matter for framing of charges.
The crime took place on October 3, 2021, 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 allegedly mowed down by an SUV which was part of the convoy of Ashish Mishra.
Today, a Bench of Justices Surya Kant and Vikram Nath was told that though the chargesheet was already submitted, the trial court was yet to pass appropriate orders regarding framing of charges. Noting that the matter will come before the Trial Court on November 29, the Court asked it frame charges within a week.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the petitioner submitted that the First Information Reports registered against Mishra were based on hearsay witnesses and not eye witnesses.
Justice Nath asked, "How does that make a difference?".
The matter will next come up on December 12.
In an earlier hearing, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar who was appearing for Mishra had submitted that Mishra had been under custody for over 11 months. He stated that chargesheet has been filed in the case in January 2022. Mishra was not at the crime site and there are CCTV records which show that he was elsewhere at a distance of 4 km where a wrestling match was taking place, he had told. He further contended that the farmers, who were agitating against the farm laws, attacked the convoy of vehicles and the deaths happened when the vehicle ran over the protesters after the driver lost control. He refuted the prosecution case that Mishra fired at the protesters after getting enraged and claimed that there were no firearm injuries in the dead bodies.
Initially, the Allahabad High Court had granted bail to Mishra on February 10, but it was set aside by the Supreme Court bench comprising the then CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli 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.