Lakhimpur Kheri: Farmers’ kin approach SC against Ashish Mishra’s bail

Farmers maintain that Ashish Kumar was in the lead car that ran over people. The minister and his son have denied the latter’s involvement in the incident.
Eight people were killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence last year.
Eight people were killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence last year.
Updated on Feb 22, 2022 03:27 AM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas, New Delhi

The families of farmers who were killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident on October 3 have moved the Supreme Court against an Allahabad high court order, which granted bail to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra ‘Teni’ and the main accused in the case.

In their appeal filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, the families of Jagjeet Singh, Pawan Kashyap and Sukhwinder Singh, who were among four farmers killed in the October 3 violence,alleged that the high court verdict was “unsustainable in eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the state to the court in the matter”.

The plea also alleged that the high court did not consider the “overwhelming evidence” against the accused, position and status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses and the likelihood of him fleeing from justice and repeating the offence while granting the bail.

“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 plea said.

“The impugned order is unsustainable in eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the state to the court in the matter contrary to object of 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,” it added.

Ashish Mishra is the main accused in the October 3 incident wherein a vehicle belonging to the Union minister allegedly mowed down four farmers during a protest against the now-repealed agricultural laws. Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by angry protesters, while a local journalist was also killed in the violence that ensued.

Farmers maintain that Ashish Kumar was in the lead car that ran over people. The minister and his son have denied the latter’s involvement in the incident.

Ashish Mishra, who was in jail since October 9, was released on February 15 following the high court order on February 10.

Seeking “stay of the impugned bail order”, the petitioners alleged that the witnesses in the case, who had joined the proceedings of the high court through video-conferencing, could not produce relevant material as their counsel got “disconnected” on the virtual platform and could not be reconnected. “The high court neither considered nor dealt with the overwhelming evidence against the accused in the charge sheet.”

“The petitioners who are the family members of three individuals who were brutally murdered by the accused are approaching this court as the state has failed to prefer any appeal against the order,” they added.

Last week, another plea seeking cancellation of bail of accused Ashish Mishra was filed by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and CS Panda on whose letter the apex court had taken the suo motu cognizance of the original incident.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022