In fresh developments in the case involving the probe into the high-profile Lakhimpur Kheri killings, the Supreme Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to upgrade the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that is investigating the matter. It advised that high ranking UP cadre officers who do not belong to UP should be included in the team. The matter related to the shocking incident where Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish’s vehicle allegedly mowed down and killed four farmers and a journalist.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli was hearing the matter on November 15. Pointing out that the Special Investigation team (SIT) mostly includes Sub-Inspectors from Lakhimpur Kheri, the bench asked the UP government for a list of higher IPS officers from the UP cadre, who are not natives of UP.
NDTV quoted the CJI as saying, “The concern is that you have to upgrade the taskforce that is probing the case. There need to be higher grade officers.” It further quoted Justice Surya Kant as saying, “Most officials in the current SIT (Special Investigation Team) are from Lakhimpur only. You give us the names of IPS officers who are from the UP cadre but don’t belong to UP.”
The Supreme Court has consistently appeared to be dissatisfied with the probe. As SabrangIndia has reported previously, on November 8, recommended names of former High Court judges to monitor the Lakhimpur Kheri killing police investigation, after growing tired of the slow pace of the case proceeding. The court criticised the Uttar Pradesh police for failing to include lab reports and other pertinent information in the status report despite a 10-day adjournment. The court had at that time suggested the names of retired justices Ranjit Singh or Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor the probe.
Prior to that, on October 20, the court had slammed the UP Police for their inability to make any progress. “We get the impression that you are dragging your feet, please do the needful to dispel that,” the Bench reportedly said as per LiveLaw. The SC had also raised concerns over other aspects of the investigation such as seizing of phones, placing some accused in police custody and others in judicial custody, as well as the submission of the report in a sealed cover over the course of hearings so far.
In the hearing today, senior advocate Harish Salve, who is representing the UP government, informed the court that the state government had agreed to the appointment of a retired HC judge to monitor the probe. The Bench then listed the matter of deciding the name of the judge for Wednesday, as per Live Law.
Further, CJI Ramana also addressed petitions that claimed some victims of the October 3 killings have still not received compensation. The court directed senior advocate Garima Prasad to take responsibility for ensuring compensation to affected people.
“I did what I promised and raised the issue of non-payment for the injured in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. I will continue to fight for the justice of the farmers,” said Legal Cell Conveyor of the farmers group Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) Vasu Kukreja.
Previously, on November 14, farmers had organised a Lakhimpur Nyay Mahapanchayat in Puranpur in Pilibhit district of UP to demand justice for the four farmers and local journalist Raman Kashyap, as per SKM. Farmer leaders emphasised that the struggle will continue until Ajay Mishra is dismissed from his ministerial position, arrested and all culprits are brought to justice.
The Order may read here:
With thinning patience, SC recommends HC judge to monitor Lakhimpur Kheri probe
Lakhimpur Kheri killings: Two more farmers arrested for alleged lynching of BJP workers
Lakhimpur Kheri case: SC directs UP gov’t to provide protection to witnesses
Lakhimpur Kheri violence: UP Police offers only excuses, sealed cover reports for SC