The Supreme Court on Monday told the Uttar Pradesh government that it should have appealed against the bail granted to Ashish Mishra as recommended by the top court appointed-Special Investigation Team (SIT). An affidavit filed by the SIT stated that it had written to the Uttar Pradesh government twice requesting the state to oppose bail granted by the Allahabad High Court on February 10.
"We expected the state to act on the suggestion of the SIT," the bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana orally observed.
The top court on Monday reserved its verdict on a plea filed by the family members of one of the victims who suggested that the Allahabad High Court failed to consider the relevant facts of the case while granting bail. Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the victim's family, said the high court ignored the chargesheet and relied on the FIR while granting bail. The high court did not hear the victim's family as well, Dave added.
Ashish Mishra—son of Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni—is the prime accused of the October 3, 2021, Lakhimpur Kheri incident where a jeep ploughed seven farmers and a journalist. The court-appointed SIT said that the incident was a pre-planned conspiracy and not an act of "negligence or callousness."
The Uttar Pradesh government told the CJI-led bench that the crime was grave; all witnesses were granted adequate protection; however, the main accused Ashish Mishra—son of Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni—was not a flight risk. Despite their submission, the top court asked the UP government—represented by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani— to clarify its stand on the plea seeking cancellation of bail, to which, the government finally stated that it was "vehemently opposing bail."
"It is a grave offence. SIT asked us to appeal since he is an influential person and he can tamper with evidence but that did not impress us," Jethmalani replied.
Ashish Mishra, the main accused told the Supreme Court that he was not even present at the scene of crime which covered an area of more than 2.8 km. Mishra, represented by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, stated that he was on foot and not in the car as stated by the prosecution.