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Ashish Mishra surrenders after top court rejected bail in Lakhimpur Kheri case

The Supreme Court had observed that the Allahabad High Court had shown "tearing hurry" in giving relief and adopted a “myopic view of the evidence".
Union minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra.  (File)
Updated on Apr 24, 2022 04:30 PM IST
By | Written by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

Union minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, surrendered at the district jail on Sunday, a week after the Supreme Court cancelled his bail and asked him to surrender in a week. Jail superintendent PP Singh has confirmed Ashish Mishra is back in jail. The media was not allowed inside the court premises.

On April 18, the top court had observed that the Allahabad High Court had shown "tearing hurry" in giving relief and adopted a “myopic view of the evidence".

The top court also said the 'victims' were denied “a fair and effective hearing” in the high court, noting that a 'victim' has unbridled participatory rights from the stage of investigation till the culmination of the proceedings in an appeal or revision.

Eight people were killed in the violence on October 3, 2021. Four farmers and a journalist were run over by a car allegedly belonging to Mishra. In the ensuing violence, three people – two political workers and a driver – were killed.

A bench, led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, directed Mishra to surrender within a week. It asked the high court to decide his bail plea afresh after giving due hearing to the victim’s families, who complained of not being provided sufficient opportunity to oppose the bail plea.

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The bench, which also included justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, held it was incumbent upon the high court to grant a hearing to the next of kin of those killed in the violence at every stage until the trial gets over.

It said the high court erroneously relied heavily on the first information report at the time of allowing Mishra’s bail plea even as the charge sheet in the case had been filed.

On November 17, the bench set up a new Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the violence and included three Indian Police Service officers in it.

The top court, which initiated suo motu (on its own motion) proceedings into the matter, also appointed former Punjab and Haryana high court judge Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor the probe into the violence.

After Mishra was granted bail on February 10, a petition seeking its cancellation was filed in the top court by family members of the three victims.

While reserving its order on the petition on April 4, the bench remarked that it expected the Uttar Pradesh government to challenge the bail to Mishra after the SIT’s recommendation twice in February to appeal against the reprieve to the main accused in the case.

The state government, on its part, indicated its reluctance to do so, claiming that Mishra is neither a flight risk nor a threat to the witnesses in the case. Lending tacit support to the February 10 order of the high court, the government added that it did not accept the recommendation of the top court-mandated SIT seeking cancellation of Mishra’s bail since the team’s apprehensions regarding threats to witnesses were not substantiated.

The petition seeking cancellation of bail was filed by Jagjeet Singh, Pawan Kashyap, and Sukhwinder Singh, the kin of three of the victims who died in the violence. Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 9 after the top court reproached the state government for the way the state handled the investigation in the case.

In their petition, victims’ kin feared the witnesses in the case would be intimidated as the accused is influential. They said the bail order did not consider the heinous nature of the crime, the overwhelming evidence against the accused in the charge sheet, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice, and the possibility of his tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses.

The plea questioned the inferences drawn by the high court by saying, “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.”

 

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