The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Uttar Pradesh government that the judge monitoring the Lakhimpur violence case probe had recommended cancellation of bail granted to Ashish Mishra and sought its response in the matter.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli queried the Uttar Pradesh government counsel, "It appears from the report of the monitoring judge that he recommended cancellation of bail. What's your stand?"
The bench pointed out that the SIT had two written letters to the additional chief secretary, home, Uttar Pradesh. Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted he had no idea about the letters and sought some time to take instructions in the matter. The Chief Justice said the monitoring judge has recommended that bail granted to Mishra must be challenged. Jethmalani sought five minutes to come up with a response in the matter.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the victims' families, submitted that the top court should either stay the high court order or cancel the bail granted to Mishra. Dave said, "the high court order suffers from complete non-application of mind".
Jethmalani said he has spoken with the additional home secretary and he has not received the letters from the judge monitoring the probe. The bench said the copy of the judge's letters should be supplied to the state government. Jethmalani requested the bench to keep the next hearing on the matter on Monday. The bench replied it's been for more than a month and the matter couldn't be taken up.
The next date of hearing is April 4.
In November last year, the Supreme Court appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the Lakhimpur Kheri violence probe. The top court also reconstituted the SIT investigating the incident and appointed IPS officer S.B. Shiradkar, as its head.
Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 9 last year in the case. On October 3, 2021, eight people, including four farmers, were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri in clashes during a farmers' protest.
The Uttar Pradesh government has told the Supreme Court that a decision on filing an appeal challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case "is pending consideration before the relevant authorities".
UP Govt's stand on bail
Refuting the allegations that it did not oppose bail granted to Mishra by the Allahabad High Court in February this year, the Uttar Pradesh government, in a counter affidavit, said that Mishra's bail application was vehemently opposed by it and any averments to the contrary in the special leave petition (SLP), filed by the family members of victims, are completely false and merit to be rejected.
"Furthermore, the Impugned Order being of 10.02.2022, the limitation period against the same is still running, and the decision to file SLP against the same, is pending consideration before the relevant authorities", said the affidavit.
The family members of the farmers, mowed down by a car belonging to Mishra, in Lakhimpur Kheri had moved the top court challenging bail granted to him. He is the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Mishra. The victims' families have claimed that the state has not filed an appeal opposing bail granted to Mishra.