The Supreme Court on Friday expressed its dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case probe. The top court rebuked the state government for failing to arrest prime accused Ashish Mishra, son of Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra.
"What message are we sending (by not arresting the accused)"? Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said. The bench observed that probe was unsatisfactory and that it would be better if the Central Bureau of Investigation took over.
The top court heard its suo motu case in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case a day after it directed the UP Government to file a status report on the FIR registered and arrests made in connection with the incident.
On October 3, violence broke out in the state after a jeep plowed down eight including four protesting farmers. A viral video alleged that the jeep was part of the convoy of the minister of state for home Ajay Mishra.
All words, no action: CJI Ramana to UP govt
CJI Ramana pulled up the Yogi Adityanath-led government for failing to apprehend the accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident. While CJI Ramana said the state government was all words and no action, Justice Hima Kohli who was also on the bench along with Justice Surya Kant observed that the "proof of the pudding was in eating it".
"This is the opinion of bench... this is a responsible state government and police, when there is a serious allegation of death or gunshot injury... will the accused in this country be treated the same way?" CJI Ramana asked senior advocate Harish Salve, who was representing the UP government.
When Salve replied that the postmortem report did not record any gunshot injury, CJI Ramana asked if this was "a ground for not taking custody of the accused".
"The way its proceeding it seems it (investigation) is not serious," CJI Ramana remarked.
"It's a brutal murder of eight persons. The law must take its course against all accused," Justice Kant piped in.
Referring to the state-constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT), CJI ramana further expressed his apprehension on whether a good probe has been conducted because of the officers involved. "Please ask the DGP to ensure that the evidence is protected and not destroy all in interim by the time another agency takes it over," the bench told Salve.
The UP government on Thursday constituted an SIT which includes the DIG and local police official like the Superintendent of Police and Circle Officers.
CJI Ramana asked Salve if the state had requested the CBI to take over the probe in this matter, to which Salve replied in the negative.
The bench then advised the state to move with caution. "We hope the state will take necessary steps due to the sensitivity of the issue. We are not making comments. CBI is not a solution for reasons known to you... because of the persons (involved)... better some other person look into (it), CJI Ramana said.
Evidence strong, if allegations are true it could be a murder case: UP govt to SC
Referring to Ashish Mishra's failure to appear before the police officials today, senior advocate Harish Salve said notice for summons has been issued against the "young man who is being targeted." Salve said Mishra, who had allegedly sought time, has now been asked to appear before the police at 11am on Saturday.
"If the person does not come, the rigour of law will take its course," Salve added.
The UP police had summoned Mishra to join the probe on October 7. Mishra however failed to show up.
When CJI Ramana commented whether all other accused were treated the same way, Salve replied, "I was told that postmortem did not show any bullet wounds that is why 160 CrPC (summons) notice was sent."
"But the manner in which the car was driven, if the allegations are true...I am saying if allegations are true and it is possible a case of murder," he said. "They (police) have found two cartridges, maybe he (accused) had a bad aim and he missed it," Salve added.
Salve sought time till October 18 (SC returns from Dusshera break on October 20) and said that "action is being taken at the highest level" and added that the state "should have done the needful."
The matter will now be heard after Dusshera break.
Updated On: 2021-10-14T18:03:31+05:30