The Supreme Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide protection to the witnesses in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident of October 3, where eight people were reportedly killed after they were mowed down by a car owned by Ashish Mishra, son of Ajay Mishra, a BJP leader.
As per media reports, the bench led by CJI NV Ramana, also directed the government to ensure that the statements of relevant witnesses are recorded by the Judicial Magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Further, if there is any difficulty in recording the witness statements due to the unavailability of Magistrate, the court directed the concerned District Judge to ensure that the statements can be recorded by the nearest available Magistrate.
The court also took into account the status report filed by the government. Further, it also reportedly expressed its surprise that only 23 eye-witnesses have been recognised, despite the presence of hundreds at the crime spot. As per a LiveLaw report, the bench also consisting of Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli told Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the government, that the investigation team must try to identify more eye witnesses as they are more credible. It also directed the forensic laboratories to expedite the examination of the video evidence of the case.
During the previous hearing, the court had pulled up the Police for delaying the investigations and not recording the statements of witnesses on time. LiveLaw quoted Justice Hima Kohli saying, “We get the impression that you are dragging your feet, please do the needful to dispel that.”
Lastly, the court today, directed the government to file separate replies with respect to the counter-case of lynching of a Shyam Sunder, after the farmers were allegedly attacked and also with respect to the killing of a journalist Raman Kashyap.
Senior Advocate Arun Bharadwaj represented Ruby Devi, the widow of one of the killed persons. LiveLaw quoted him as saying, “I appear for Ruby Devi. My husband has been killed. I want justice. The killers are roaming free and threatening me.”
Also, Senior Advocate Harshvir Pratap Sharma mentioned the issue relating to the investigation of murder of journalist Raman Kashyap on October 3.
The matter will now be heard on November 8.