The Supreme Court on Tuesday brushed aside a contention that the trial in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, involving the son of Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra as an accused, was “slow paced”, saying it is not so.
The top court had January 25, 2023 granted interim bail for eight weeks to Ashish Mishra and directed him to leave Uttar Pradesh within one week of his release from jail.
A bench of Justices Surya Kant and J K Maheshwari told the sessions judge dealing with the trial of the case to keep apprising it about the future developments of the trial.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the victim families, expressed concern about the “slow pace of the trial”. He submitted that about 200 prosecution witnesses have to be examined in the case.
The bench replied that the trial is not slow paced and the court has received three letters from the trial judge.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Ashish Mishra, said with the apex court's order, his client was released from jail and he has appeared before the trial court on every date of hearing.
Referring to the January 25 order, the bench said the interim directions would continue to operate. Citing the letters received from the First Additional District and Sessions Judge, Lakhimpur Kheri, the bench said examination of three witnesses is over while cross-examination of one of them is going on.
“We are not using the word monitoring but we are having indirect supervision on the trial and we will do that,” the bench said.
"Let this status continue for some more time," the bench said, adding that the trial court should continue to apprise it of the future developments of the trial and scheduled the matter for further hearing in May.
On October 3, 2021, eight people had died in Lakhimpur Kheri district's Tikunia in violence, triggered when farmers were protesting against UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to the area.
The Uttar Pradesh Police FIR claimed four farmers were mowed down by an SUV, in which Ashish Mishra was seated.
Following the incident, a driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers. A journalist also died in the violence.
On December 6, 2022, a trial court had framed charges against Mishra and 12 others for the alleged offences of murder, criminal conspiracy and others in the case of death of the protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri.