NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted eight-week interim bail to Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra's son Ashish in the 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence that had left eight people dead.
While granting Mishra bail conditionally, a bench headed by Justice Surya Kant directed Mishra to leave the state of UP within one week and further barred him from staying in UP or Delhi.
Bench in its order has also said that any attempt by a family member of the accused, to influence the witness will also lead to the cancellation of his bail. Additionally, the bench has said, “If it is found that Ashish Mishra is trying to delay the trial it will be a valid ground to cancel the bail.”
The bench has also extended the benefit of interim bail also to other accused (farmers) who are presently in custody in the cross FIR till further orders.
Court has also directed the lower court to submit the progress of the report of the trial to the SC after every date of the hearing with details of witnesses examined on each date.
“The registry is directed to list the matter without any delay for app directions as soon as the report is to be received by the trial court,” the court has also said.
Mishra had preferred an appeal against Allahabad HCs order of refusing to grant him bail.
Defending Ashish Mishra, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi contended that the murder was not pre-planned and that the complainant who had filed the FIR was not an eye witness.
“This is not a case of pre-planned murder but a case where the crowd turned violent. A completely wrong approach has been taken. It’s not pre-planned & both are aspects of the same FIR. Their entire argument is the argument of revenge and that’s not jurisprudence of bail. How can it be a case of 302?” Rohatgi also added.
Opposing the bail, Senior Advocate and AAG Garima Prashad for UP Government while terming Mishra’s offence as “henious” said that granting him bail would send a wrong message to the society. Prashad further said, “In the chargesheet, there are seven people who have seen him running from the spot.”
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave appearing for one of the kin of the victims argued that granting Mishra bail would send the wrong message. Pointing out to the chargesheet which pointed towards the commission of “cold-blooded murder”, he said, “There are 13,000 under trials facing section 302 charge in UP. Mr Mishra isn’t special. They are languishing. A message was that one man gets it, everyone else has been declined.” Dave also said.
On October 3, 2021, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri district's Tikunia where violence erupted when farmers were protesting against the then deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to the area.
According to the Uttar Pradesh Police FIR, four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in which Ashish was seated.
Following the incident, the driver of the SUV and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers.
A journalist also died in the violence. The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had on July 26 last year rejected the Ashish Mishra's bail plea. He had challenged the high court's order in the apex court.
(With inputs from PTI)