[BREAKING] Supreme Court cancels bail granted to key accused Ashish Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri violence case

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The Supreme Court on Monday canceled the bail of Ashish Mishra, the prime accused, in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident that happened in October 2021. 

A special bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and consisting of Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli today asked Mishra to surrender in one week's time. 

The bench was hearing a plea moved by the kin of the victims of Lakhimpur Kheri violence seeking cancelation of the bail granted by the Allahabad High court to Ashish Mishra, the prime accused in the case.

Earlier, the bench heard the case at length with Dushyant Dave, Sr. Adv, appearing for one of the petitioners, Ranjit Kumar Sr. Adv appearing for Mishra and Mahesh Jethmalani Sr. Adv appearing for the State of UP. 

When the hearing began Jethmalani submitted, "As far as merits are concerned, we stand by whatever was said during the arguments in the High Court."

He further said that the State has filed an affidavit and that the State government has provided extensive security to the witnesses. He submitted that the state has contacted all the witnesses and that they said there is no threat to security. 

On the other hand, Dave, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the judgment is wrong and that the High Court has directed itself to irrelevant considerations. 

He argued that the High Court says the allegation in the FIR is of only killing by a bullet and assuming that there was no bullet, the bail was granted, completely ignoring that the victims were run over by a vehicle.

He further argued that Ajay Mishra in a public speech had earlier threatened the farmers and alleged that the District Magistrate and SP came to the venue and changed the route and that this very route, which was not used for the convoy was where the violence took place against the agitating crowd. 

Furthermore, Dave argued that the victims were not heard while bail was granted to Mishra. He argued that "the Learned Judge completely overlooked the fact that this court had taken suo moto cognizance. There is no mention of the word in the order."

He contended that the SIT report says there was clearly a pre-determined plan and that the accused deliberately went via a road where the crowd was going in the reverse direction and deliberately drove at break neck speed. 

Ranjit Kumar, Sr. Adv, appearing for Mishra, submitted that the FIR says there was a death due to a firearm injury and hence the judge went into the bullet injury.

He argued, "The whole genesis of the occurrence is that there was a wrestling competition happening. There was a helipad made for him to arrive, the people wanted to protest at this place. So the route and the helipad were changed."

Kumar further argued on behalf of Mishra, " if the Supreme Court cancels the bail, who will grant me bail thereafter? This is the last court of resort. I am only arguing based on the information placed before the court."

Kumar apprised the Court that in the counter case, charge sheet has been filed and is being supervised by the same judge. He submitted that the charge sheet states, "the driver of the vehicle who is killed ultimately was hit by rods and danda and the court should look into it".

Before this, The bench had received a letter from Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain (Retd.), who has been appointed to monitor the investigation, recommending the cancellation of bail to Ashish Mishra.

A plea was filed in Supreme Court by the kin of those who were allegedly killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, challenging the Allahabad High Court order allowing bail to Ashish Mishra, the key accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri Violence case. 

The plea filed by Advocate Shiv Kumar Tripathi has sought cancellation of the bail stating that "the concept of fairness in action and the postulate of 'justice not only done but seem to be done' still remains a far cry." 

The State of UP filed a counter stating that it has provided requisite security to the kin of the victims and eyewitnesses to the incident.

The bench of Justice Rajeev Singh of Allahabad High Court on February 10, 2022, had pronounced the judgment which had been reserved on January 18. Earlier, the bail pleas of Mishra and two others had been rejected by the Lakhimpur Kheri District and Sessions court on November 15, 2021.

In the October 3 case, a total of 14 people have been made accused and out of those currently, 13 accused, including Mishra, are lodged in the district jail. The proceedings in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case(s) are going on before the District Court in which Uttar Pradesh Police had filed an exhaustive chargesheet running into 5000 pages on January 3.

In November 2021, Supreme Court appointed Justice (Retd) Rakesh Kumar Jain of Punjab and Haryana High Court to monitor investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri Violence incidents. The Court has also asked the UP government to reconstitute the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to include IPS officers S.B.Shirodkar, Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan. 

The bench has directed that the matter be listed after a charge sheet has been filed on the recommendation of Justice (Retd) Rakesh Kumar Jain.

Case title: Jagjeet Singh & Ors Vs Ashsih Mishra