Lakhimpur Kheri victims challenge bail to Ashish Mishra in top court

Last week, two lawyers practicing in the Supreme Court approached the top court with an application against the bail granted to Ashish Mishra.
Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 9, 2021 in the incident that took place on October 3. The charge sheet had alleged the killing to be “pre-planned”. (HT PHOTO.)
Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 9, 2021 in the incident that took place on October 3. The charge sheet had alleged the killing to be “pre-planned”. (HT PHOTO.)
Updated on Feb 21, 2022 10:17 PM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas

The family members of victims who died in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence approached the Supreme Court challenging the bail granted to Ashish Mishra by the Allahabad high court on February 10.

Claiming that Mishra, son of Union minister of state (home) Ajay Mishra, wields considerable influence and the high court failed to notice the serious charges against him in the charge sheet, three of the victims’ kin – Jagjeet Singh, Pawan Kashyap and Sukhwinder Singh, appealed to the top court to set aside the bail order of the high court. The victims filed their appeal on Saturday and will be represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The appeal targeted the manner in which the state government argued against the bail before the high court, questioning the inaction by the state to appeal against the bail order. It further stated that the settled principles for grant of bail - the heinous nature of the crime; the overwhelming evidence against the accused in the charge sheet, position and status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice, and the possibility of his tampering with the witnesses – were not considered by the high court.

“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 appeal said.

Even the victims who had joined the high court proceedings through videoconferencing could not place the relevant material before the high court 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,” they stated.

Referring to portions from the bail order where the judge said, “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”, the victims’ kin termed it as “far-fetched imaginary possibilities ” that was contrary to what the charge sheet stated.

Evidence is, in fact, to the contrary showing that the vehicles had been dashing at high speeds of 70-100 km/hr from the time they left the venue of the ‘dangal’; when they passed the petrol pump; when they crossed the police crossing; all the way to the scene of the crime; and the same has been attested to by various eye witnesses including police officials on duty, the appeal said.

Terming the high court order “unsustainable in law”, the petitioners sought to be allowed to appeal against the bail, stating, “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.”

Last week, two lawyers practicing in the Supreme Court approached the top court with an application against the bail granted to Ashish Mishra.

Ashish was arrested on October 9, 2021 in the incident that took place on October 3. The charge sheet had alleged the killing to be “pre-planned”. According to the police report, Mishra came in a Thar SUV along with a convoy of three-four cars and mowed down protesting farmers against the now-repealed farm laws, gathered to protest the arrival of UP deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Four of the protesting farmers were killed, following which three occupants from the jeep were pulled out and thrashed resulting in their death.

The Supreme Court is hearing a suo moto petition on the incident and had in November last year constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to carry out further probe in the case. The top court had also appointed a retired judge of the Punjab & Haryana high court – justice (retired) Rakesh Jain – to monitor the probe.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022