Friday, 2 December, 2022
HomeJudiciaryHaven’t ruled out challenging Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra’s bail, UP govt...

Haven’t ruled out challenging Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra’s bail, UP govt tells SC

Decision on appeal still pending, says govt affidavit, no timeline given. State also says two incidents of witnesses being attacked not linked to Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

Text Size:

New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government has not ruled out challenging the grant of bail to Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son, Ashish Mishra, the prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court Tuesday, the UP government submitted that the limitation period to appeal against the Allahabad High Court order releasing Mishra has not yet lapsed. The decision on whether to appeal is pending for consideration before the relevant authorities, it said. 

The affidavit, however, did not state how long the state will take to file an appeal. 

The state further rejected the allegations that crucial witnesses in the case had been attacked for pursuing the matter in the Supreme Court, maintaining that the two incidents mentioned by the petitioners could not be linked to the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

On 3 October last year, a convoy of vehicles, including one owned by Union minister Ajay Mishra, ran over a group of protesting farmers in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, killing four of them and a journalist and injuring several others. The minister’s son, Ashish Mishra, a key accused in the case, was jailed on 10 October. 

The Allahabad High Court had on 10 February, 2022 granted Mishra bail, and following the law on limitation, the state has 90 days to file a special leave petition from the date the order was pronounced.

Granting relief, the high court had observed that although it was alleged that Mishra incited the vehicle’s driver to run over protesting farmers at the site, it was possible that the driver acted on his own to save himself, given that there were thousands of protesters. In this context, the court observed, the killing of the driver and a co-passenger of Mishra (in retaliatory violence) could not be overlooked.

Relatives of some victims approached the top court against the high court’s order, and argued that the high court had “misdirected itself on principles governing grant of bail.” It had overturned the trial court’s decision to rightly deny bail to Mishra, they argued. It was also pointed out that the state had not filed any appeal against the bail order. 

On the day the Supreme Court issued notice to the state in this matter, the petitioners also complained of witnesses being threatened, allegedly by the accused.

Also read: Why UP govt did not move SC over bail to Ashish Mishra: Jayant Chaudhary

UP government’s affidavit 

In the affidavit, the state first denied the averment that it had not opposed Mishra’s bail plea in the high court. The government quoted portions of the high court order where arguments made by the state during the hearing there were recorded.

“The same clearly demonstrates that respondent’s (Mishra) bail was vehemently opposed by the state, and any averments to the contrary in the SLP (appeal) are completely false and merit to be rejected,” the state submitted. .

On the charge of witnesses being threatened and attacked, the state said the two incidents cited by the petitioners in the additional documents given to the Supreme Court were to “conflate” issues. The two incidents, it added, cannot be connected to the Lakhimpur Kheri case.

In both, the witnesses were attacked due to their personal differences with the alleged assailants, investigation in the two cases has revealed. One of them, the affidavit said, was beaten up after he had a sudden altercation with the attackers, who had splashed colour on him during Holi celebrations. 

As for protecting the witnesses, the state provided a list of 98 people who have received police protection in the case under the witness protection scheme. While 79 are from Lakhimpur Kheri district, 17 are from outlying districts, and two are from Uttarakhand.

The state is also in regular touch with the witnesses to assess their security conditions, and they are interviewed telephonically, said the affidavit. 

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: From Lakhimpur to Punjab, farmers’ protests did impact elections. Believe data not half-truths


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism

Most Popular