The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would set up a bench to hear on Wednesday a plea challenging the grant of bail by the Allahabad High Court to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that left eight people, including four farmers, dead.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana took note of the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for some farmers, that there was an attack on one of the prime witnesses of the case.
“The people who attacked the witness threatened (the witness) by saying now that BJP has won, they will take care of him,” Bhushan said, adding that other co-accused are also seeking bail relying on the Allahabad High Court order granting bail to Ashish Mishra.
The CJI said he would constitute the bench which had heard the case earlier and list it for hearing on Wednesday.
A bench of the CJI and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli had earlier heard the case pertaining to the incident that had left eight people, including four farmers, dead and had appointed a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the probe.
On March 11, the top court had agreed to list for hearing on Tuesday the plea seeking cancellation of Mishra’s bail in the case.
A single-judge bench of the high court, on February 10, had granted bail to Mishra, who had spent four months in custody.
Three family members of farmers who were killed in the violence have sought a stay on the February 10 bail order of the high court, saying the verdict was unsustainable in the eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the state to the court in the matter.
Recently, another plea seeking cancellation of bail of Ashish Mishra was filed by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C S Panda, on whose letter the apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident.
On October 3 last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV. A driver and two BJP workers were then allegedly lynched by angry farmers.
A journalist also died in the violence that triggered outrage among opposition parties and farmer groups agitating over the Centre’s now-repealed agri laws.
On November 17 last year, the top court had appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the probe by the Uttar Pradesh SIT.
The plea for cancellation of Mishra’s bail has been filed by farmers Jagjeet Singh, Pawan Kashyap, and Sukhwinder Singh, through Bhushan.
The plea said: “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. The impugned order is unsustainable in the eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the State to the court in the matter contrary to the object of the first Proviso to Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides that in grave offences notice of bail application should ordinarily be given to the public prosecutor.”