Lakhimpur Kheri Violence: Top Court reserves judgment in bail plea filed by Ashish Mishra

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In December last year, the top court had asked for a tentative schedule for affirming the time it will take to conclude the trial against the accused persons in Lakhimpur Kheri violence case. 

The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict in the bail plea filed by Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, in the case registered over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence of October 3, 2021 in which a vehicle rammed into a farmers’ protest against the three farm laws passed by the Union Government, killing two BJP workers, a driver and a journalist.

When the matter was taken up today, a division bench of Justices Surya Kant and JK Maheshwari observed that since the trial in the case might take 5 years to conclude, as informed on the last hearing and thus, there could not be indefinite incarceration of the accused.

Last week, Court was informed that the trial in the case would likely be completed in five years time. A bench of Justices Surya Kant and V Ramasubramaniam had then asked UP's Additional Advocate General, Garima Prashad if any accused, in the other case emanating from the other FIR registered in the matter, had been arrested.

Court had then posted the matter for January 19, i.e., today, as Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the families of the victims, was unavailable, on account of being unwell.

In December 2022, the Supreme Court had directed the Registrar (Judicial) to enquire the expected time it will take to complete the trial from the first additional sessions judge at Lakhimpur Kheri. The State of Uttar Pradesh had also been directed to file an additional affidavit stipulating the pace of the investigation in the case.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant & Krishna Murari had also contemplated on the need to balance the rights of the accused persons behind the Lakhimpur Kheri incident with those of the victims and witnesses. 

While the court was hearing the bail plea of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni's son, Ashish Mishra, who is the prime accused in the case and who is in jail since October 10, 2021, it had remarked, “The accused also has rights just as the victims, how long can he be kept in jail?"

Ashish Mishra is one of the 13 accused persons who have been held for murder, criminal conspiracy and certain other offences in the violence case. 

The Supreme Court had issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh Government on Ashish’s bail plea on September 6, 2022 and had asked the Uttar Pradesh Government to respond to his petition seeking bail, in which he had challenged the denial of bail to him by Allahabad High Court on July 26.

On April 18, the Supreme Court had cancelled the bail given to Ashish Mishra by the Allahabad High Court. Earlier, the bail pleas of Mishra and two others had been rejected by the Lakhimpur Kheri District and Sessions court on November 15, 2021.

The case is being investigated by a Special Investigation Team which is being monitored by Justice (Retd) Rakesh Kumar Jain of Punjab and Haryana High Court. 

Case Title: Ashish Mishra @ Monu Vs State of Uttar Pradesh