NEW DELHI: In a sharp criticism of the UP government, the Supreme Court Friday asked why accused Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, hadn’t been arrested yet in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case.
Noting Ashish had been booked under Sec 302 of IPC (murder), the bench of CJI N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said it is not satisfied with the action taken and the state’s claims appear to be “only in words”. It added, “We hope it (the state) will take necessary steps”.
Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the UP government, admitted there were lapses on part of the administration and said “what they have done is a hash”. Remedial action will be taken, he assured the court.
The SC also objected to the SIT’s composition, saying only local cops are part of it. It said it will study other investigation modes. A CBI probe is not a solution due to “some reasons”, the SC said, perhaps because senior Mishra is a central minister.
Is this how other accused are treated: SC
The court wondered when the violence and loss of eight lives constituted a serious case, why the state authorities did not proceed in the manner in which they should have. “Is it the way you treat accused in other cases (murder cases) also: Issuing notice to them to appear and not arresting them,” the bench said, adding there are “straight statements” of eye witnesses in the case. Its message: all accused should be treated in the same manner irrespective of their background.
Police must act responsibly and with sensitivity in handling the Lakhimpur Kheri case to inspire confidence among people, the SC said.
The bench expressed surprise over the state police summoning the accused to appear before it in such a serious offence instead of arresting them. Their remarks followed Salve saying a notice had been issued to accused, including Ashish Mishra.
Salve agreed that there is a very strong case against “the young man” (Mishra) and charges against him are very serious. He said a notice has been issued to him as the postmortem report didn’t show any gunshot injury. He said the accused have been asked to appear by 11am on Saturday, failing which he will be subjected to the “rigours of law”, hinting he can be then taken into custody.
While deferring the hearing for October 20 when it will further scrutinise the actions of state government before passing orders, the bench said the state should take all steps to protect evidence.