“The investigation is not going the way we expected,” the Supreme Court on Monday again expressed dissatisfaction with the Uttar Pradesh Police probe into the Lakhmipur Kheri killing of October 3, which claimed the lives of 8 people, four of them being farmers protesters who were mowed down by the vehicles in the convoy of Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister and BJP leader Ajay Kumar Mishra.
It is the third time in recent weeks, the Supreme Court expressed its dissatisfaction with the handling of the case
The top court expressed dissatisfaction at the fact that the forensic lab reports regarding the video evidence have not yet come and that the mobile phones of all accused have not been seized.
The top court is hearing the matter after two lawyers had written a letter to the CJI seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the farmers’ killing.
The Supreme Court criticised the Uttar Pradesh government for not providing enough details in its status report on the police’s investigation. Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said there was nothing in the status report except a statement that some more witnesses had been examined.
The apex court said that a judge of a different High Court will be monitoring the proceedings till the chargesheet is filed.
“We don’t want to add to political overtones. Let a retired (High Court) judge oversee (the case),” Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli suggested the names of former judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justices Rakesh Kumar Jain or Ranjit Singh, for overseeing the probe till filing of the chargesheets, legal website Live Law reported.
The Supreme Court also expressed concerns about the case against the Union minister’s son, the prime accused, in the case relating to the attack on farmers being diluted by clubbing the investigation with the counter-case of mob lynching.
Ashish Mishra was arrested on October 11, three days after the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the Uttar Pradesh government’s progress in the case.
The Chief Justice said the two FIRs had to be investigated separately.
Justice Surya Kant said: “We are sorry to say that prima facie it appears that one particular accused is being given benefits by overlapping two FIRs.”
“One set of murder is of farmers, then there is journalist and there are political workers. There are statements of witnesses that have been recorded that seem to favour the main accused,” said Justice Surya Kant.
Ten people, including Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra, have been arrested so far in connection with the case.