Supreme Court says UP govt must dispel doubts that it is dragging its feet on Lakhimpur Kheri incident

By: |
October 21, 2021 3:00 AM

When Salve told the bench that the state had filed a status report in a sealed cover, the CJI said that there was no need to file it in a sealed cover, and it had received the report just before the hearing. “We waited till 1 am last night for any filing, but we received nothing,” the CJI said.

Several videos of the incident have been received and sent for forensic examinations, the senior lawyer said, while seeking further time to file a fresh status report.Several videos of the incident have been received and sent for forensic examinations, the senior lawyer said, while seeking further time to file a fresh status report.

Asking the Uttar Pradesh government to record the statements of all witnesses in the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight persons, including four farmers, were killed, the Supreme Court said that ‘this should not be an unending story’ and the state must dispel the impression that it was ‘dragging its feet’.

Hearing a PIL in the case allegedly involving Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra, a bench led by Chief Justice N V Ramana asked senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the UP government, to ensure statements of witnesses were recorded before a magistrate and adequate protection was granted to them. So far 10 people, including Mishra, have been arrested in the case.

When Salve told the bench that the state had filed a status report in a sealed cover, the CJI said that there was no need to file it in a sealed cover, and it had received the report just before the hearing. “We waited till 1 am last night for any filing, but we received nothing,” the CJI said.

Going through the status report, the judges noted that out of 34 witnesses, only statements of four witnesses have been recorded so far. “We feel you are dragging your feet. Please dispel that,” the bench told Salve, who submitted that two FIRs were lodged into the matter – one related to killing of farmers and another on lynching of other persons.

Several videos of the incident have been received and sent for forensic examinations, the senior lawyer said, while seeking further time to file a fresh status report.

Declining the request of petitioner advocate Shiv Kumar Tripathi to access the report, the judges said that “this is a sensitive matter…It is nothing secret. But let us see next Wednesday.” It also posted the matter for further hearing on October 26.

On October 3, a convoy of three vehicles allegedly ferrying the Union minister’s son had hit a group of farmers protesting against controversial farm laws at Lakhimpur Kheri. As many as eight people, including four farmers, were killed. The minister’s son was arrested in the case later after the apex court pulled up the UP government over the delay in arresting the accused. The top court acted on a letter petition sent by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C S Panda who sought CBI probe into the matter.

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