Almost got it done, working something out: Harish Salve tells SC on Lakhimpur Kheri violence
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident to Monday, after senior advocate Harish Salve sought a few more days’ time.On November 8, the top court had expressed its dissatisfaction with the SIT probe in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident with regards to the seizure of mobile phone of only one accused and the process of collection of evidence in the two FIRs.It told the Uttar Pradesh government that it wants to appoint a retired high court judge to monitor day-to-day investigation till charge sheet is filed. The bench had asked Salve to seek instructions from the state government on its suggestion.Today, Salve, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, sought a few more days’ time in the matter.He submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana “Would your Lordships give me time till Monday? I’ve almost got it done.”He added, “We’re working something out”.The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli agreed to Salve’s request and scheduled the matter for further hearing on Monday.In the previous hearing, the top court had told a counsel, “We are trying to introduce impartiality and fairness in the matter…”The Chief Justice had told Salve, “There is nothing in the status report. We granted 10 days time…lab reports have not come so far. It (the probe in the incident) is not going the way we expected.
“The top court had queried Salve that ‘why mobile phones of all accused in Lakhimpur Kheri incident have not been seized, except that of prime accused Ashish Misra?’Justice Kohli specifically asked whether it is the stand of the government that the other accused did not use cell phones.Salve submitted there were a total 16 accused in the case, out of which three died and 13 have been arrested.Kohli asked, “The mobile phones of one accused out of 13 accused has been seized?”The top court told the Uttar Pradesh government that both incidents — mowing down of protesting farmers by a vehicle and the lynching of the accused — have to be investigated with impartiality and fairness.The top court said prima facie view it appears that one particular accused is being benefited by recording statements of witnesses in a particular manner.Justice Kant said: “What appears to us is that SIT is unable to keep the investigative distance between the FIRs (one where farmers were mowed down by the car and the other accused were killed)…important to ensure evidence in 219 and 220 (FIRs) recorded independently”.The bench, stating it is not confident regarding the process adopted by Uttar Pradesh SIT to record the evidence, said: “We are inclined to appoint a judge from a different high court to monitor day-to-day investigation…till the charge sheet is filed.”The violence occurred on October 3, resulting in the killing of eight persons, including four farmers who were allegedly mowed down by the vehicles in the convoy of Ashish Misra, the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Misra.