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New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on April 18 on a petition seeking cancellation of Ashish Mishra’s bail in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case. Earlier, a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana had reserved the order after hearing all the parties. It may be recalled that a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Suya Kant and Hema Kohli had on February 10 strongly remarked against the Allahabad High Court granting bail to Mishra. “We do not allow such irrelevant things…don’t want to use the word rubbish,” the bench said. It further added, “It’s not good..the quality of what we feel this way, it is not necessary to go into injury (caused by the bullet).”

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that the alleged offense is very serious and the state government has provided adequate security to all the 98 witnesses in the case, and the police is also in regular touch with them. The bench said the apex court had appointed former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain to oversee the Lakhimpur Kheri violence probe and recommended cancellation of the bail granted to Mishra.

The Chief Justice told Jethmalani, “Not filing SLP (Special Leave Petition), providing security to witnesses, these are not all issues… the state should have acted on the suggestions given by the SIT. We are not forcing you to file SLP. The Chief Justice further asked Jethmalani categorically, “What is your stand?” Jethmalani replied that Mishra is not a flight risk and to say whether the offense was intentional or not is a trial matter, and reiterated that the offense is serious.

During the hearing, the bench said that in the matter of bail, why did the High Court judge pay attention to the merits of the case. The bench said, “Forget about the merits, how can the judge go into all this postmortem and all?” Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the family members of the victims, submitted that the High Court failed to consider the relevant facts, and the order was not fully implemented by the High Court. After hearing detailed arguments in the matter, the top court reserved the order.

Jethmalani said the state government was opposed to the bail granted to Mishra in the case. Mishra was arrested in this case on October 9 last year. Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in clashes during a farmers’ protest at Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3, 2021. He was granted bail on February 10. Family members of farmers who were crushed by a car of Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri had moved the apex court challenging the bail granted to them. He is the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Mishra. The families of the victims have claimed that the state has not filed an appeal against the bail granted to Mishra. In November last year, the Supreme Court appointed former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, to oversee the Lakhimpur Kheri violence probe.

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