'It's a grave, heinous crime': Uttar Pradesh govt to Supreme Court over Ashish Mishra's bail plea
Lakhimpur Kheri violence: Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who appeared on behalf of those opposing the bail plea, said that granting bail would send a terrible message to society. In response, Ashish Mishra's advocate, Mukul Rohatgi, strongly opposed Dave's submission.
The Uttar Pradesh government opposed the bail application of Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra's son, one of the prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, in the Supreme Court on Thursday, January 19, 2023.
Additional Advocate General for Uttar Pradesh, Garima Prashad, told the bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J K Maheshwari that the crime is serious. "It is a grave and heinous crime, and (granting bail) will send the wrong signal to society," she said in response to why she opposed the bail plea.
The Supreme Court said that there are two versions of the heinous crime and that it cannot comment on either of them.
The bench asked, "We are taking a prima facie view that he is involved, accused and not innocent. Is the state claiming that he attempted to destroy evidence?"
In response, the additional advocate general said, "That has not happened until now."
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who appeared on behalf of those opposing the bail plea, said that granting bail would send a terrible message to society. "It's a plot and a well-executed murder. I will show it from the charge sheet... He is the powerful man's son, and a powerful lawyer is representing him," he explained.
Mishra's senior advocate, Mukul Rohatgi, strongly opposed Dave's submission and said, "What exactly is this? Who is the most powerful? Every day, we appear. Can this be a condition for denying bail?"
Rohatgi claimed that his client has been in custody for more than a year, and the trial will take seven to eight years to complete. He said that the complainant in the case, Jagjeet Singh, is not an eyewitness and that his complaint is based solely on hearsay.
"The complainant, Jagjit Singh, is not an eyewitness," he said, adding, "I am surprised that an FIR is registered on the version of a person who is not an eyewitness when many people say we ran over people mercilessly."
Rohatgi added that his client got bail in the first instance. "This is not cock and bull story, and there is truth in my story." Additionally, he said that his client is not a criminal, and there are no claim records. Currently, the hearing is underway.
On October 3, 2021, eight people were killed in Tikunia, Lakhimpur Kheri district, when farmers protested then-Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to the area.
According to the Uttar Pradesh Police FIR, four farmers were killed by an SUV where Ashish Mishra was seated. After the incident, angry farmers lynched a driver and two BJP workers.
On December 6, 2022, a trial court issued charges against Ashish Mishra and 12 others for alleged murder, criminal conspiracy, and other offences in the death of protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, paving the way for the trial to begin.
Nearly 13 people have been charged with rioting under IPC sections 147 and 148 related to rioting, 149 (unlawful assembly), 302 (murder), 307 (murder attempt), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 427 (mischief), and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), and section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act.
The other 12 accused include Ankit Das, Nandan Singh Bisht, Latif Kale, Satyam alias Satya Prakash Tripathi, Shekhar Bharti, Sumit Jaiswal, Ashish Pandey, Lavkush Rana, Shishu Pal, Ullas Kumar alias Mohit Trivedi, Rinku Rana, and Dharmendra Banjara and they're all in jail.
While hearing the matter on December 12, 2022, the apex court had asked the state government, which had opposed Ashish Mishra's bail plea, describing the offence as 'very grave,' to file an affidavit regarding the status of the case lodged over the killing of three occupants of the SUV.
(With inputs from PTI)