The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the bail granted to Ashish Mishra, the prime accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case and the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, Bar and Bench reported.
Ashish Mishra was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court on February 10.
Farmer bodies had alleged that a vehicle belonging to him had run over people on October 3 during a protest in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district against the now-repealed three farm laws. Mishra had been arrested on October 9. He walked out of jail on February 15.
Families of those killed had challenged the bail order in the Supreme Court.
At Monday’s hearing, a bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli asked the Union minister’s son to surrender before the authorities within a week.
The judges said that the Allahabad High Court had granted bail to Mishra by taking into account irrelevant considerations, according to Live Law. Families of farmers killed in the violence were also not heard by the High Court before passing the order, the Supreme Court said.
“The denial of victims to be heard and the tearing hurry shown by the High Court merits the setting aside of bail order,” the three-judge bench said. “Thus, we remand the matter back to High Court for fresh consideration of the bail application of [the] accused [person].”
Justice Kant observed that victims have an “unbridled right” to take part in all the proceedings, including bail hearings.
“FIR [first information report] cannot be treated as an encyclopedia of events,” the Supreme Court said. “Judicial precedents were ignored.”
After the Supreme Court’s ruling, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the petitioners, urged the judges to assign another bench to hear the case. However, the apex court left the matter to the chief justice of the Allahabad High Court.
During the hearings, it had emerged that the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and a retired High Court judge monitoring the case had recommended to the Uttar Pradesh government to file an appeal against the bail order. They had stated that Mishra is an influential person.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, told the Supreme Court that the suggestion “did not impress us”. Moreover, Jethmalani had told the judges that Mishra is not a flight risk.
At a hearing on April 4, the Supreme Court asked why the state had failed to challenge the bail order. “You yourself admitted the offence is very serious,” the chief justice told the Uttar Pradesh government counsel. “You say you vehemently opposed the bail application of the accused in the High Court...So we expected you to have acted on the suggestion of the SIT and the monitoring judge to appeal against the bail.”
The counsel representing the farmers told the court that Mishra’s acts were deliberate. “Ashish Mishra and his friends raised slogans and crushed the farmers with the intention to kill them,” Dave had submitted. “Four farmers and one journalist died because of this.”
He added that the Special Investigation Team had collected evidence prima facie showing Mishra’s involvement in the crime after an extensive inquiry.
Justice Rajeev Singh of the Allahabad High Court, while granting bail to Mishra, had observed that no firearm injuries were found either on the body of any of the deceased persons or on the body of those injured in the violence.
The FIR in the case accused Mishra of shooting dead one of the farmers. Though, the post-mortem report did not show any bullet injury.