Lakhimpur Kheri: farmers’ kin move SC against bail to Minister’s son

They say they have appealed Feb. 10 bail order as State of U.P. has not budged as yet

Updated - February 21, 2022 06:03 pm IST

Published - February 21, 2022 06:00 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Ashish Mishra, son of MoS Home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’, had been granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, on Feb. 10. File

Ashish Mishra, son of MoS Home Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’, had been granted bail by the Allahabad High Court, in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, on Feb. 10. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The families of the protesting farmers who were run over in Lakhimpur Kheri challenged in the Supreme Court on Monday the grant of bail by the Allahabad High Court to accused Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra Teni.

The families, represented by advocates Prashant Bhushan and Cheryl d’Souza, said they have appealed the February 10 bail order as the State of Uttar Pradesh has not budged as yet.

The petitioners have alleged that the bail was an “arbitrary” exercise of discretionary powers by the High Court and their lawyer was unable to present their side of the case.

Apex court order

The petition reminded the apex court that it had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident, which involved the shocking case of farmers, protesting the controversial farm laws, were run over in broad daylight. The plea stated that the top court, on November 17 last year, ordered the formation of an independent special investigation team to conduct the investigation and filing of status report before it after the charge sheet was filed.

The grant of bail to the Minister’s son would derail the prosecution of the case, they argued. The charge sheet was filed on January 3.

“The family members of the murdered farmers are seeking special leave to appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution of India against the order as the State of Uttar Pradesh where the political party of the accused and his father is in power has failed to file appeal against the impugned order,” the petitioners said.

The families have argued that Mr. Mishra was released on bail despite the heinous nature of the crime, the character of the overwhelming evidence against the accused in the charge sheet, the position and status of the accused with reference to the victim and witnesses, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and repeating the offence and the possibility of his tampering with the witnesses and obstructing the course of justice.

‘Perverse in law’

The petitioners said the bail order was perverse in law. The accused has not brought on record the fact that the charge sheet had been filed even before the final hearing on the question of bail on January 18.

“The High Court neither considered nor dealt with the overwhelming evidence against the accused in charge sheet,” they contended.

“The victims were prevented from bringing the relevant material as regards the settled principles for grant of bail to notice of High Court as their counsel ‘got’ disconnected from the hearing on January 18 before he could barely make any submissions and repeated calls to the court staff to get reconnected were to no avail,” they noted.

The petitioners pointed out that non-consideration in the order of the power and influence wielded by the accused and his supporters in the area where the victims, family members, witnesses, and their advocates reside and who have consistently been under pressure was perverse and there was “an immediate threat of the streams of justice being sullied”.

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