Allahabad high court denies bail to Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri case

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 02:03 AM IST

Eight people, including four farmers, a journalist and two BJP workers and a driver were killed and several injured in violence near Tikunia village in Lakhimpur Kheri district on October 3, 2021.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra, who has been in jail in connection with the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri in October last year. (PTI)
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra, who has been in jail in connection with the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri in October last year. (PTI)
By, Lucknow

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra, who has been in jail in connection with the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri in October last year that led to the death of eight people, including four farmers.

Through its additional advocate general Vinod Kumar Shahi, the state government opposed the bail plea, saying the accused have been charged with deliberately running over five innocent persons and injuring 13 others. In the ensuing violence, two supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the driver of a vehicle were killed by an agitated mob.

“Taking into consideration the complicity of the applicant, there being an apprehension of the witnesses being influenced, the severity of punishment as drawn from the nature and gravity of the accusations, after taking due consideration of the submissions of the parties, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, I do not find it a fit case for bail,” justice Krishan Pahal said.

The single-judge bench was also critical of the way the media reported the incident and its aftermath.

“The media is supposed to provide news to the society, but sometimes we have seen that individual views are overshadowing the news, thus putting an adverse effect on truth,” justice Pahal observed. “Of late, media is seen overstepping upon the sanctity of judiciary in high-profile criminal cases, as was evident in the cases of Jessica Lal, Indrani Mukerjea and Aarushi Talwar, etc.”

A media trial forms public opinion against the suspects even before the court takes cognizance of the case, he said. “...as a result, the accused who should have been presumed innocent, is treated (like) a criminal,” the court observed.

“The excessive publicity of the suspect in the media before the trial in a court of law either incriminates a fair trial or results in characterizing the accused or suspect as the one who has certainly committed the crime,” the court said.

A special investigation team of the state government is probing the case. It has arrested 13 people involved in the incident. Mishra is the prime accused in the case. A local court in Lakhimpur Kheri had rejected bail applications of all accused in the case.

The court said that had both sides (the farmers and the accused) observed restraint, eight precious lives would not have been lost in the violence. The court also pointed out that the Lakhimpur Kheri district administration had imposed a curfew on the day when the incident took place. It was applicable not only to the accused and his associates but also to agitating farmers, it pointed out.

Eight people, including four farmers, a journalist and two BJP workers and a driver were killed and several injured in violence near Tikunia village in Lakhimpur Kheri district on October 3, 2021. Two SUVs were set on fire by agitated farmers.

Justice Rajeev Singh of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court granted bail to Mishra on February 10, 2022.

However, the Supreme Court cancelled Mishra’s bail in April and referred the matter back to the Lucknow high court. While cancelling Mishra’s bail, the top court also asked the high court to reconsider his bail application.

Later, justice Singh recused himself from hearing it again and referred the matter to the chief justice of the high court for nomination to another bench. The case was then handed over to the court of justice Pahal.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Pawan Dixit has been a journalist for over a decade. He has extensively covered eastern UP for around five years, covered 2012 UP assembly polls, 2014 Lok Sabha polls while being stationed in Varanasi. Now, in Lucknow, he covers outstation political assignments, reports special cases from district court, high court and state information commission

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