Lakhimpur Case: SC Revokes Ashish Mishra's Bail, Asks Him To Surrender in a Week
The apex court has, however, remanded the case to the high court to decide on the matter once again.
The Supreme Court, on Monday, 18 April, set aside the bail granted to Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, the prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, which had led to the deaths of four farmers.
The apex court asked Mishra to surrender within a week.
Setting aside the high court order granting bail to Mishra, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana-led bench of the Supreme Court, said:
"The High Court has taken into account several irrelevant considerations, whilst simultaneously ignoring judicial precedents and established parameters for grant of bail."
Pointing out that "no accused can be subjected to unending detention pending trial, especially when the law presumes him to be innocent until proven guilty," the apex court, however, remanded the matter back to the high court for a fresh consideration, after giving adequate opportunity of hearing to the victims as well.
But on a request by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, counsel for the petitioners, for the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court to be requested to place the matter before a new judge (different from the one who had previously granted bail to Mishra), the Chief Justice of India said:
“We don't think it is necessary for us to say it in the order. Let us leave it to the High Court Chief Justice.”
The top court said that the “victim has been denied the right of hearing.”
The Court's Order
In their judgment setting aside the high court order, the CJI-led bench delved into three questions.
Whether a 'victim is entitled to be heard at the stage of adjudication of bail application of an accused'?
Whether the high court overlooked the relevant considerations while passing their order granting bail to Ashish Mishra?
If the high court's order was then palpably illegal and warranted interference by the apex court?
"Instead of looking into aspects such as the nature and gravity of the offence; severity of the punishment in the event of conviction; circumstances which are peculiar to the accused or victims; likelihood of the accused fleeing; likelihood of tampering with the evidence and witnesses and the impact that his release may have on the trial and the society at large; the High Court has adopted a myopic view of the evidence on the record and proceeded to decide the case on merits."Supreme Court, in its order.
'Thankful to the Court': Son of Deceased Farmer
Expressing gratitude to the Supreme Court for setting aside Mishra's bail, Jagdeep Singh, son of a deceased farmer, according to ANI, said:
"I'm thankful to the court for taking the right decision. We have full trust in the judiciary as it will punish culprits no matter if anyone is a Union minister's son or not."
Meanwhile, welcoming the apex court decision, Samyukt Kisan Morcha said that farmers' faith has been restored in the country's judicial system.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, on his part, was quoted by ANI as saying:
“Supreme Court felt that the facts were not presented by the UP government, hence cancelled the bail plea. We've trust in judiciary and hope that in coming times farmers will get justice."
Prior to that, on 30 March, the court had also told the Uttar Pradesh government that the judge appointed to monitor the Special Investigation Team probing the Lakhimpur Kheri case has recommended that the state should file a plea challenging accused Ashish Mishra’s bail.
The plea was filed by families of the farmers killed on 3 October 2021 in Lakhimpur Kheri after being run over by an SUV belonging to Ashish Mishra.
Representing the Uttar Pradesh government, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani had maintained the government's stand that the offence was a grave one, but had added that "Ashish Mishra is not a flight risk."
He had also said that the state was "unimpressed" by the SIT's argument that Ashish Mishra is an influential person and could tamper with evidence while being out on bail.
Representing the petitioners, senior advocate Dushyant Dave had pointed out the inconsistencies and lapses in the probe and the basis on which bail was granted by the Allahabad High Court.
Dave, as quoted by Bar&Bench (B&B), had said that the HC had "failed to consider relevant facts and the judgment suffers from gross non-application of mind."
The apex court had further taken note of the fact that none of the witnesses were heard by the high court.
(With inputs from LiveLaw.)
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