The families of the farmers killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri have approached the Supreme Court to challenge the bail to Ashish Mishra, the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra and the main accused in the case.
The Allahabad High Court granted bail despite “overwhelming evidence” against the minister’s son, the plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan said.
“High Court granted bail without considering the heinous nature of the crime. The character of the overwhelming evidence against the accused in the chargesheet, the position and status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and repeating the offence and the possibility of his tampering with the witnesses and obstructing the course of justice,” the plea said.
The plea also stated that victims were prevented from bringing the relevant material to the notice of High Court as their counsel got disconnected from the hearing of the bail matter on January 18, 2022.
“The counsel could barely make any submissions and repeated calls to the court staff to get reconnected were to no avail and application filed by the victims before High Court for an effective rehearing was rejected,” the plea said.
The petitioners said that they were forced to approach the top court since the state government failed to file an appeal against the Allahabad High Court order granting bail.
This is the second plea to be filed against the bail for the Union Minister’s son. A petition was filed in the top court two days after Ashish Mishra’s release wherein the petitioners had raised the possibility of evidence tampering and threats to witnesses.
The petitioners, advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and CS Panda, also sought that the special investigation team file a status report in the case before the top court immediately.
Ashish Mishra, the main accused in the killing of protesting farmers in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri last year, was released from jail on February 15. He was granted bail last week by the Allahabad High Court, after lower courts rejected requests.
His release comes as BJP-ruled UP votes in a seven-phase Assembly election. Three phases are over. Lakhimpur votes in the fourth phase – on February 23.
On October 3, a Mahindra Thar belonging to Ashish Mishra ran over four farmers and a journalist at Lakhimpur Kheri during a protest march against three (since scrapped) farm laws.
He was arrested only days later – after the Supreme Court intervened; the court ordered an inquiry after the police and administration were accused of going slow on the investigation.