'Record Statements Before Magistrate, Protect Witnesses': SC on Lakhimpur Case
The Supreme Court also questioned the delay in recording statements of more witnesses under Section 164 of the IPC.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 20 October, directed the Uttar Pradesh government to record the statements of the witnesses in the Lakhimpur Kheri case before a magistrate and provide them with protection.
The directions from the apex court came while it was hearing a PIL concerning the unrest in which eight people, including four farmers, were killed during a protest on 3 October.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for UP government submitted the status report to the court in a sealed cover.
Heading the bench, Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana said that the judges waited till late Tuesday night for any filing, but hadn't received it. The bench also refused to adjourn the matter till Friday as per a request from Salve.
'Why Have Statements of All Witnesses Not Been Recorded?'
Questioned on why only some of the 44 witnesses were under Section 164 of the IPC (recording of confessions and statements before a magistrate), Salve said: "There was a concern from Your Lordships that they were going soft on the accused. All accused have been arrested. The total number inside are now 10 accused."
Salve further said that two crimes are being investigated – the first is where the cars drove over the farmers and the second is where the farmers attacked people from the cars.
Salve further informed the court that 10 people have been arrested in the case so far out of which four are in police custody.
Justice Surya Kant questioned why statements of more witnesses were not recorded under Section 164, since there is a high possibility that the witnesses can be intimidated. "We think you are dragging your feet, you will have to dispel that impression," Justice Hima Kohli further said.
Salve said that if the matter is heard next week, more statements will be recorded by then.
The matter will now be heard by the court on 27 October.
On being asked why the accused weren't kept in police custody for longer, UP state counsel Garima Prashad said that they had been held for three days and sufficient questions asked.
The bench was told that the phones of the accused have been seized and that there are lots of videos which will "make the position clear."
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