‘Why only 23 eyewitnesses?’ Supreme Court asks Yogi govt to grant protection to Lakhimpur Kheri violence witnesses

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Updated: October 26, 2021 12:32 PM

The Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to grant protection to the witnesses of the violence which claimed eight lives including four farmers.

The Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to grant protection to the witnesses of the violence which claimed eight lives including four farmers.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttar Pradesh government why there were only 23 witnesses when hundreds of farmers were present in the rally in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. The remarks came after the government told the court that out of the 68 witnesses of the violence, 23 persons claim to be eyewitnesses.

A bench headed by Chief justice N V Ramana asked the Uttar Pradesh government, represented by senior advocates Harish Salve and Garima Prasad, to grant protection to the witnesses of the violence which claimed eight lives including four farmers.

The state government told the Supreme Court that people have seen the car and the people who were inside the car. On this, the court said that that if the eyewitness is more credible than a bystander then it is best to have first-hand information.

Other than eyewitnesses, the top court asked the Yogi Adityanath government to record the statements of other relevant witnesses before judicial magistrates under section 164 of the CrPC.

“We direct the District judge concerned to entrust the task of recording of evidence under section 164 of the CrPC to the nearest judicial magistrates available,” said the bench which also comprised justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

The bench asked Salve to to convey its concerns to forensic labs and experts on preparation of reports on electronic evidence of the incident.

The top court, meanwhile, asked the state government to also file its report on two complaints including the one related to the lynching of a journalist. “The state is directed to file separate replies in the cases,” the bench said and fixed the plea for further hearing on November 8.

Observing that the probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence should not be an “unending story”, the Supreme Court on October 20 had rapped the government, saying the court was getting the impression that the state police was dragging its feet, and also ordered the protection of witnesses.

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