Will the accused be brought to book?

Will the accused be brought to book?

SC ticks off Yogi govt over Lakhimpur; VIP son given special treatment

Is this the way you treat accused in other cases as well; send them notice? SC

Agency Report | New Delhi | 8 October, 2021 | 11:00 PM

The Supreme Court has suggested that Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashis, who is yet to be arrested, has been receiving preferential treatment stating it was “not satisfied with the steps taken so far by the state government” in investigating the Lakhimpur Kheri carnage. “When there is a serious allegation of death or gunshot injury, will (all) the accused in this country be treated the same way? Sending notices like, ‘Please, come tell us’?” Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said, alluding to the Uttar Pradesh police merely summoning Ashis instead of arresting him. The bench, which included Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said the police investigation was “not serious”, underlined that the officers involved were “local”, and said the probe should be conducted by some other agency to ensure a “fair, free and impartial investigation”. However, it added that the CBI could not be relied on in the present case — “for reasons known to you and all of us” — leaving open the possibility that it might consider constituting an independent probe team. The bench also made it a point to ask the state government to ensure that all the evidence was protected and preserved.

The Supreme Court on Friday said it is “not satisfied with the action taken by the state (Uttar Pradesh)” in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, adding that the top court expects a “responsible government, system and police”. The apex court also observed that handing over the case to the CBI was not the solution.

At the outset, a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said these are very serious charges and the law should take its course against all the accused.

He said there are statements made by the eyewitnesses when the Uttar Pradesh government counsel submitted the case is possibly Section 302.

He added the court expects responsible government, system and police, and the accused have to be treated as same way, as they are treated in other cases. The top court was hearing a PIL registered on the basis of letter by two advocates seeking action and CBI probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

The bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said: “We are not satisfied with the action taken by the state.”

Representing the Uttar Pradesh government, senior advocate Harish Salve contended that Ashish Mishra who allegedly mowed down protesting farmers had been asked to appear by Saturday 11 a.m. He added that since the postmortem did not show any bullet injury, therefore a notice under Section 160 CrPC was sent. Salve said: “But the manner in which car was driven and if allegations are true, there is a case of murder”.

On the non-arrest of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, the bench queried Salve, “Is this the way you treat the accused in other cases as well… Sending notice.”

The bench told Salve: “When there is a serious allegation of murder and gunshot injury, how the accused in other parts of the country are treated. Please tell us.”

The bench further queried Salve if the state government has made a request to give the case to the CBI to which he replied that it is entirely in their hands. However, the bench told Salve: “CBI is also not a solution and you know the reason why… You find out better mode.” Salve said all the shortfalls would be addressed within two days.

Salve said the case is extremely serious. The bench replied: “If it is an extremely serious case that’s not how things are taking place. It is only in words and not in action.”

He admitted before the top court that what has been done by the state is not satisfactory and remedial action will be taken soon, and urged the bench to put the matter for hearing immediately after the Dussehra vacation.

The top court also took a strong objection to SIT formed in the matter, which comprises local officials.

The bench said it may not be required to keep the SIT anymore, and emphasized that they should not destroy evidence or do anything negative.

The top court told Salve that it will take up the matter after Dussehra vacation, ‘but that does not mean the state holds its hands’, and insisted that the state must take immediate steps.

Justice Kant said: “You have to inspire confidence”. Salve said, “What they have done isn’t satisfactory.”

The bench said: “Because of the sensitivity of the issue, the state should understand, we aren’t saying anything more”.

The apex court has listed the matter for further hearing on October 20.

On Thursday, the top court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a status report indicating who are the accused named in the FIR filed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case and whether they have been arrested or not.

On October 3, nine persons, including four farmers, were killed in the violence that had erupted during a farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The bench said it may not be required to keep the SIT anymore, and emphasized that they should not destroy evidence or do anything negative. Salve submitted that given the evidence in hand, allegations under Section 302, may be possibly true.

The top court told Salve that it will take up the matter after Dussehra vacation, ‘but that does not mean the state holds its hands’, and insisted that the state must take immediate steps.

Justice Kant said: “You have to inspire confidence”. Salve said, “What they have done isn’t satisfactory”.

The bench said: “Because of the sensitivity of the issue, state should understand, we aren’t saying anything more”.

The apex court has listed the matter for further hearing on October 20.

On Thursday, the top court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a status report indicating who are the accused named in the FIR filed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case and whether they have been arrested or not.

On October 3, nine persons, including four farmers, were killed in the violence that had erupted during a farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The Supreme Court also expressed its unhappiness over a tweet published by a media organisation falsely claiming that Chief Justice of India Ramana met the kin of victims of Lakhmipur Kheri violence.

He said he was sitting inside the courtroom, and how it is possible to get to Lucknow.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, terming the tweet unfortunate, said it respects the media and its independence but this is “not at all fair”. It emphasised that media should verify facts before putting out any information, adding: “We are sorry to observe that somebody is exceeding the limit of freedom of speech”. The bench said these are all false representations.

A lawyer raised the issue during the hearing of a PIL in connection with Lakhimpur Kheri violence. He submitted that on Thursday, a media organisation had posted a tweet claiming the CJI had met the kin of the victims.

At this, the Chief Justice said: “They must have some sense because I was sitting in the court. How can I go to Lucknow and visit the family.”

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who representing the Uttar Pradesh government, said all of them are at the receiving end due to irresponsible tweets. He added, “I have seen some about myself also.

Justice Kohli said: “We respect the media and their independence… but this is not the way to cross it. This is not at all fair.” The Chief Justice said it is part and parcel of public life and in public life “we have to receive”.

“Leave it there. We should not bother about these things,” he said. (IANS)