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Lakhimpur case: SC to hear on March 15 plea against grant of bail to Ashish Mishra

The Supreme Court agreed to list for hearing on March 15 a plea challenging the grant of bail by the Allahabad High Court to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that left eight people, including four farmers, dead.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana was told by lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the plea, which was to be listed Friday, has not been in the list of business, and meanwhile, there was an attack on one of the prime witnesses of the case on Thursday night.

“There has been a mistake. They (Registry officials) are listing it on Tuesday. We will take it up on next Tuesday,” said the bench which also comprised Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli.

The matter was mentioned for urgent listing by Bhushan on March 4 and the court had agreed to hear it on March 11.

Bhushan had submitted that the other accused in the case were moving courts for grant of bail citing the relief granted to Ashish Mishra.

The bench had asked the lawyer to intimate the high court that the top court is hearing the plea for cancellation of bail.

A single-judge bench of the high court, on February 10, had granted bail to Mishra who had spent four months in custody.

Three family members of farmers, who were killed in the violence, have sought a stay on the February 10 bail order of the high court, saying the verdict was “unsustainable in the eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the state to the court in the matter”.

Recently, another plea seeking cancellation of bail of Ashish Mishra was filed by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and CS Panda on whose letter the apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident.

On October 3 last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.

Four farmers were moved down by the SUV. A driver and two BJP workers were then allegedly lynched by angry farmers.

A journalist also died in the violence that triggered outrage among opposition parties and farmer groups agitating over the Centre’s now-repealed agri laws.

On November 17 last year, the top court had appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the probe by the Uttar Pradesh SIT.

The plea for cancellation of Mishra’s bail has been filed by farmers, Jagjeet Singh, Pawan Kashyap, and Sukhwinder Singh, through lawyer Bhushan.

“The lack of any discussion in the high court’s order as regards the settled principles for grant of bail is on account of lack of any substantive submissions to this effect by the State as the accused wields substantial influence over the state government as his father is a union minister from the same political party that rules the State.

“The impugned order is unsustainable in eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the State to the court in the matter contrary to the object of the first Proviso to Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which provides that in grave offences notice of bail application should ordinarily be given to the public prosecutor,” the plea said.

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