The Supreme Court on Monday said it may not be possible to tell the trial court to conduct day-to-day hearing in the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence even as it extended the bail of Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son Ashish till July 11.
Justices Surya Kant and JK Maheshwari said it appeared the trial court was dealing with the case sincerely and day-to-day hearing may not be feasible as it will affect other pending cases. The court observation came after Prashant Bhushan, representing the families of farmers killed in the violence, urged the bench to ask the trial court to have daily hearing as only three of around 200 prosecution witnesses have been examined so far. Bhushan complained that at this rate the case may drag on for another 20 years. He said the trial court may be asked to examine two prosecution witnesses in a week.
Also read: Lakhimpur Kheri case: SC grants interim bail to Ashish Mishra
The apex court, posting the matter for further hearing on July 11, said the interim direction given earlier by it shall continue to operate.
While hearing the matter on March 14, the apex court had said the trial in the case was not “slow paced” and told the sessions judge to keep apprising it about future developments.
The Supreme Court said it was not monitoring the trial but having an “indirect supervision” on it. It had said the interim direction contained in its January 25 order, by which it granted eight-week interim bail to Ashish Mishra, shall continue to operate. The court told Ashish Mishra to leave Uttar Pradesh within one week of his release from jail.
On October 3, 2021, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri district’s Tikunia after violence erupted when farmers were protesting against the then Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.
Also read: UP govt opposes Mishra’s bail plea in SC, calls Lakhimpur Kheri crime ‘heinous’
According to the Uttar Pradesh Police, four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in which Ashish Mishra was seated. After that, the driver of the SUV and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by farmers. A journalist also died in the violence.
While granting eight-week interim bail to Ashish Mishra, the bench had said any attempt made by him, his family or supporters to influence or threaten the witnesses, directly or indirectly, shall entail cancellation of interim bail.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on July 26 last year rejected Ashish Mishra’s bail plea. He had challenged that order in the apex court.
(With agency inputs)