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SC-appointed Committee recommends cancellation of bail granted to Ashish Mishra

SC directs the State of UP to respond to the reports issued by SIT by April 4, 2022

Sabrangindia 01 Apr 2022

Ashish MishraImage courtesy: Hindustan Times


On March 30, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to respond to the two reports of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) whose investigation is being monitored by a retired Supreme Court judge. This was in connection to the petition filed against the Allahabad High Court’s decision granting bail to Ashish Mishra on February 21, 2022, in connection with the October 3, 2021 deaths of four farmers and a journalist in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The said reports of the Supreme Court appointed committee recommended the cancellation of bail granted to Union Minister’s son Ashish Mishra.

The bench headed by CJI NV Ramana reportedly said, “There are two letters sent by the SIT to the additional chief secretary (home) of the Uttar Pradesh government by the monitoring judge who had written to the state to file appeal in SC to cancel bail of main accused Ashish Mishra.” The said bench also comprised Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for the petitioner reportedly submitted, “State of UP has submitted that they had opposed the bail in HC. It is imminent that the bail be cancelled or set aside. The HC verdict suffers from non-application of mind.”

The Bench then handed over the reports to the State and the Petitioner, and listed the matter for April 4, 2022.

Earlier, on March 28, 2022, the State of Uttar Pradesh had filed a detailed affidavit to the Supreme Court in response to the said petition.

While denying the petitioner’s allegations that it did not vehemently oppose the bail, the State reportedly contended, "…the Respondent No.l (Ashish Mishra) Bail application was vehemently opposed by the State, and any averments to the contrary in the SLP are completely false and merit to be rejected. Furthermore, the Impugned Order being of 10.02.2022, the limitation period against the same is still running, and the decision to file SLP against the same, is pending consideration before the relevant authorities."

In the said affidavit, the State also denied the attack on the witness to be connected with the bail granted to Ashish Mishra. Instead, it reportedly claimed that the said incident was the result of a heated argument that augmented over throwing colours during Holi celebration.

Supporting its claim, the State had reportedly added, “As per the Section 161, statements of the said eyewitnesses, on 10.03.2022, at around 8.15 pm, the witness came towards the Primary School near Danga, on a tractor-trolley laden with sugarcane. His police gunner Manoj Singh was with him at the time. At that time, some people were playing with Holi Gulal near the school and threw the Gulal on Diljot Singh as well. When Diljot Singh objected to the same, an altercation broke out between him and the others, in which one of the miscreants hit him with a belt and others kicked and punched him.”

With respect to providing protection to the witnesses as directed by the Court, the State said, "Each witness has one armed police gunner. The families of the victims have one armed gunner each, along with permanent security guard and continuous monitoring through installed CCTV cameras, as well as barrier duty at their residence. A total of 98 persons have been provided security, of which 79 are from Kheri district, 17 from outlying districts and 2 from the State of Uttarakhand."

“The State has submitted that all the witnesses are being regularly contacted by the police for appraisal of their security conditions. The witnesses were interviewed telephonically most recently on 20.03.2022 and expressed satisfaction with the security provided to them,” reported LiveLaw.

On March 15, 2022, the victim’s family advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the SC bench that the witness in the case had been brutally attacked and threatened stating “Now that BJP has won the election, you will see what we can do.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the State Government of Uttar Pradesh asking it to make sure that the witnesses were protected and directed the State to file a detailed counter affidavit.

Brief background of the case

On October 3, 2021, Ashish Mishra was travelling with a convoy of vehicles along with other goons, when his vehicle allegedly mowed down protesters. This led to the death of four farmers and one journalist among others at the spot. After dodging arrest for a while, Mishra surrendered, but quickly applied for bail. When it was repeatedly denied by lower courts, Mishra moved the Allahabad High Court.

It was on February 10, a day when Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections commenced, incidentally with a polling phase catering to several farmer dominated constituencies that the HC granted Mishra bail. Farmer leaders expressed great anger on receiving this news, while survivors of the October 3, 2021 incident voiced fear for their lives.

And their fears were not unfounded, given how shortly after Ashish Mishra was granted bail, the impunity of his supporters became increasingly evident. On March 11, 2022, 10 men allegedly belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegedly assaulted and threatened Diljot Singh, one of the witnesses of the Lakhimpur Kheri killings. The goons distracted gunman Manoj, a security guard assigned to protect Singh, and attacked the sugarcane farmer with belts. According to the FIR complaint, accused Ashok, Ramu, Munnalal, Anil Trivedi, Pavan and five to six others dealt severe injuries to Singh’s head and tore his clothes.

Ashish Mishra’s feeble defence to the bail

Ashish Mishra’s legal representative argued at the time of his bail hearing that he was not present at the event when the killings occurred, but was instead attending a Dangal (wrestling) function four kilometres away. Senior Counsel GD Chaturvedi had said that even if the same was proved to be false, the complainant Jagjeet Singh said Ashish was sitting beside the driver and not in control of the Mahindra Thar vehicle.

Further, he said there is no evidence that proves Ashish ordered the driver to mow down the farmers. Chaturvedi said that even if the killing was proved to be a deliberate act, it cannot be linked to Ashish. Despite the complainant’s query of how a driver could disobey the orders of his employer – the son of an influential Minister – the Court eventually allowed Ashish’s bail.

 

Related:

SC to hear plea challenging Ashish Mishra’s bail tomorrow

Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra gets bail

Lakhimpur Kheri killings: SIT files chargesheet against farmers!

Lakhimpur Kheri massacre: Fact-finding report highlights administrative tyranny

Lakhimpur Kheri killings were planned: SIT

SC-appointed Committee recommends cancellation of bail granted to Ashish Mishra

SC directs the State of UP to respond to the reports issued by SIT by April 4, 2022

Ashish MishraImage courtesy: Hindustan Times


On March 30, 2022, the Supreme Court directed the State of Uttar Pradesh to respond to the two reports of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) whose investigation is being monitored by a retired Supreme Court judge. This was in connection to the petition filed against the Allahabad High Court’s decision granting bail to Ashish Mishra on February 21, 2022, in connection with the October 3, 2021 deaths of four farmers and a journalist in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The said reports of the Supreme Court appointed committee recommended the cancellation of bail granted to Union Minister’s son Ashish Mishra.

The bench headed by CJI NV Ramana reportedly said, “There are two letters sent by the SIT to the additional chief secretary (home) of the Uttar Pradesh government by the monitoring judge who had written to the state to file appeal in SC to cancel bail of main accused Ashish Mishra.” The said bench also comprised Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for the petitioner reportedly submitted, “State of UP has submitted that they had opposed the bail in HC. It is imminent that the bail be cancelled or set aside. The HC verdict suffers from non-application of mind.”

The Bench then handed over the reports to the State and the Petitioner, and listed the matter for April 4, 2022.

Earlier, on March 28, 2022, the State of Uttar Pradesh had filed a detailed affidavit to the Supreme Court in response to the said petition.

While denying the petitioner’s allegations that it did not vehemently oppose the bail, the State reportedly contended, "…the Respondent No.l (Ashish Mishra) Bail application was vehemently opposed by the State, and any averments to the contrary in the SLP are completely false and merit to be rejected. Furthermore, the Impugned Order being of 10.02.2022, the limitation period against the same is still running, and the decision to file SLP against the same, is pending consideration before the relevant authorities."

In the said affidavit, the State also denied the attack on the witness to be connected with the bail granted to Ashish Mishra. Instead, it reportedly claimed that the said incident was the result of a heated argument that augmented over throwing colours during Holi celebration.

Supporting its claim, the State had reportedly added, “As per the Section 161, statements of the said eyewitnesses, on 10.03.2022, at around 8.15 pm, the witness came towards the Primary School near Danga, on a tractor-trolley laden with sugarcane. His police gunner Manoj Singh was with him at the time. At that time, some people were playing with Holi Gulal near the school and threw the Gulal on Diljot Singh as well. When Diljot Singh objected to the same, an altercation broke out between him and the others, in which one of the miscreants hit him with a belt and others kicked and punched him.”

With respect to providing protection to the witnesses as directed by the Court, the State said, "Each witness has one armed police gunner. The families of the victims have one armed gunner each, along with permanent security guard and continuous monitoring through installed CCTV cameras, as well as barrier duty at their residence. A total of 98 persons have been provided security, of which 79 are from Kheri district, 17 from outlying districts and 2 from the State of Uttarakhand."

“The State has submitted that all the witnesses are being regularly contacted by the police for appraisal of their security conditions. The witnesses were interviewed telephonically most recently on 20.03.2022 and expressed satisfaction with the security provided to them,” reported LiveLaw.

On March 15, 2022, the victim’s family advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the SC bench that the witness in the case had been brutally attacked and threatened stating “Now that BJP has won the election, you will see what we can do.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the State Government of Uttar Pradesh asking it to make sure that the witnesses were protected and directed the State to file a detailed counter affidavit.

Brief background of the case

On October 3, 2021, Ashish Mishra was travelling with a convoy of vehicles along with other goons, when his vehicle allegedly mowed down protesters. This led to the death of four farmers and one journalist among others at the spot. After dodging arrest for a while, Mishra surrendered, but quickly applied for bail. When it was repeatedly denied by lower courts, Mishra moved the Allahabad High Court.

It was on February 10, a day when Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections commenced, incidentally with a polling phase catering to several farmer dominated constituencies that the HC granted Mishra bail. Farmer leaders expressed great anger on receiving this news, while survivors of the October 3, 2021 incident voiced fear for their lives.

And their fears were not unfounded, given how shortly after Ashish Mishra was granted bail, the impunity of his supporters became increasingly evident. On March 11, 2022, 10 men allegedly belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegedly assaulted and threatened Diljot Singh, one of the witnesses of the Lakhimpur Kheri killings. The goons distracted gunman Manoj, a security guard assigned to protect Singh, and attacked the sugarcane farmer with belts. According to the FIR complaint, accused Ashok, Ramu, Munnalal, Anil Trivedi, Pavan and five to six others dealt severe injuries to Singh’s head and tore his clothes.

Ashish Mishra’s feeble defence to the bail

Ashish Mishra’s legal representative argued at the time of his bail hearing that he was not present at the event when the killings occurred, but was instead attending a Dangal (wrestling) function four kilometres away. Senior Counsel GD Chaturvedi had said that even if the same was proved to be false, the complainant Jagjeet Singh said Ashish was sitting beside the driver and not in control of the Mahindra Thar vehicle.

Further, he said there is no evidence that proves Ashish ordered the driver to mow down the farmers. Chaturvedi said that even if the killing was proved to be a deliberate act, it cannot be linked to Ashish. Despite the complainant’s query of how a driver could disobey the orders of his employer – the son of an influential Minister – the Court eventually allowed Ashish’s bail.

 

Related:

SC to hear plea challenging Ashish Mishra’s bail tomorrow

Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra gets bail

Lakhimpur Kheri killings: SIT files chargesheet against farmers!

Lakhimpur Kheri massacre: Fact-finding report highlights administrative tyranny

Lakhimpur Kheri killings were planned: SIT

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