The trial court in the October 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, in which one of the accused is Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra, has warned the Supreme Court that the trial will take at least five years to finish due to the 208 witnesses.
Hearing a bail request submitted by Ashish Mishra, the bench of Justices Surya Kant and V Ramasubramanian referred to the trial court report and stated that “states it will take 5 years for the trial to end”.
“The knowledgeable Additional Sessions Judge’s report states that there are 208 witnesses, 171 documents, and 27 FSL reports,” it stated.
The Supreme Court had requested the status of the trial from the Sessions Court on the last date of hearing.
Noting that there are two FIRs in the matter, the court inquired whether there are any accused in the second case, and if so, whether they have been apprehended.
When the bench requested an update on the status of the second case, advocate Prashant Bhushan, who is representing the relatives of some of the victims in the case in which Mishra is an accused, stated that material witnesses can be heard on a day-to-day basis first.
The bench noted that the report stated that one of the material witnesses acquired fever on the day he was to be interrogated and that such practical difficulties would continue to arise.
“If you accelerate this up, then this case will have to be tried at the cost of all other cases. That is why we approached the trial court,” the bench explained.
According to Bhushan, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was created at the request of the Supreme Court in this case.
Bhushan reiterated his demand for a day-to-day trial, claiming that Mishra was the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni and that witnesses had been assaulted.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, standing for Mishra, contested the charge and called it “absolutely false”.
Bhushan claimed that the state administration was working hand in hand with the accused, which is why the SIT was constituted.
Uttar Pradesh Additional Advocate General (AAG) Garima Prashad disputed the claim and said “this is our chargesheet”.
Referring to the second FIR on alleged lynching by farmers resulting in the death of a car driver and two others, the bench asked the AAG, “Can you bring in a formal status report on that case too?”.
It stated that it wanted to know if anyone was charged in the second instance and if they had been arrested.
“We want to know the specifics of the accused in the other FIR. How many people have been arrested, what the situation is, and everything else. “We’d like to know how many of them are in custody,” the statement read.
“It is our case,” Rohatgi said of the second FIR. Our jeep was attacked as a result of mob aggression.”
The judge scheduled the case for hearing on January 19 and instructed the AAG to inform the court whether the defendants in the second FIR are in custody.
On October 3, 2021, a convoy of automobiles, including one belonging to Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra, ran over eight people, including four farmers.
The High Court granted bail to Ashish Mishra in February 2022, but the Supreme Court overturned it and sent the case to the High Court for review.
After hearing it again, the High Court denied the bail application in July of last year, prompting Ashish to petition the Supreme Court.