BREAKING: SC cancels Ashish Mishra’s bail

The apex court set aside the bail in light of recent attacks upon Lakhimpur Kheri violence witnesses and concerns raised by victims' families

Ashish Mishra

A small relief to Lakhimpur Kheri violence witnesses after the Supreme Court today cancelled main accused Ashish Mishra’s bail. According to the Bar and Bench, the matter has been remanded back to the Allahabad High Court for fresh consideration.

A bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son will have to surrender before the police within a week. Mishra is accused of killing four farmers and a local journalist during the October 3, 2021, violence in Tikonia village. Three more people also died in the violence.

Following his bail in February amidst Uttar Pradesh elections, two witnesses in the district survived assaults and faced death threats. Voicing concerns about the bail, they approached the apex court to appeal against the High Court order. Justice Kant said this was in view of the fact that families of the deceased were denied chance of effective hearing before the Allahabad High Court.

“The denial of victims to be heard and the tearing hurry shown by the High Court merits the setting aside of bail order. Thus, we remand the matter back to High Court for fresh consideration of the bail application of the accused,” the Supreme Court directed, as per the Bar and Bench.

Kant further said that a victim of a crime has the unbridled participatory right in the criminal trial process i.e., they have a right to be involved in decisions that affect them most. In bail processes, the court is required to consider victims’ safety and security. As such, the top court criticised the Allahabad High Court for failing to consider judicial precedents while granting the bail.

“FIR cannot be treated as an encyclopaedia of events. Judicial precedents were ignored,” the Bar and Bench quoted the order.

The court order also comes a day after the farmers’ umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) voiced faith in the Supreme Court’s judgement. On April 17, the SKM voiced its concerns about the attacks on witnesses. The latest attack was in Kheri district on a key witness.

“While farmers are being implicated in false cases and arrested, and witnesses are being attacked, the culprits are roaming free,” it said.

Justice for the Lakhimpur Kheri violence is still a chief demand for farmer unions. Peasants condemned the attack on peacefully protesting farmers, demonstrating outside an event attended by State Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Mishra’s initial arrest came a whole week after the incident. Further, it took the apex court’s intervention to ensure that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) conducted a proper survey that recently revealed that the violence was a “planned attack”.

In November 2021, a trial court rejected Mishra’s bail. Finally, Justice Rajeev Singh of the Allahabad High Court granted him bail on February 10 at the High Court. He claimed there might have been a possibility that the driver sped up the vehicle to save himself.

Disappointed by the judiciary, farmers then resolved to appeal to the Supreme Court themselves.


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