Supreme Court dissatisfied with U.P. government’s status report

The Hindu

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Lakhimpur Kheri violence | Supreme Court dissatisfied with U.P. government’s status report

The Supreme Court on Friday said the Uttar Pradesh Government’s resolve to fairly investigate the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and deaths, including allegations of murder against a Union Minister’s son, seemed just all talk and no action.

“Your seriousness is only in words and not in your actions,” Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana addressed the government. Justice Hima Kohli told the State, “There is an old adage which rings true in this situation -- the proof of the pudding is in the eating...”

The State is represented by senior advocate Harish Salve and State Additional Advocate General Garima Parshad.

Justice Surya Kant, on the Bench, told the State, “It is a case of brutal murder of eight persons, law must take its course against all the accused.” The court stated that it was dissatisfied with the government’s status report on the investigation.

Chief Justice Ramana pointed out how even a special investigation team formed by the State was made of “local” police officers, inspectors, police superintendents and a DIG.

The court asked whether the State has yet made a request to the CBI to take over the case. Salve replied in the negative.

After a pause, the court itself went on to express doubts about transferring the case to the CBI. “The CBI is not a solution for reason of the persons involved...”, Chief Justice Ramana told Salve. The “persons involved” may have been a reference to the case’s link to a Central Minister.

Salve began his submissions, saying a “young man”, ostensibly Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra, was being “targetted”.

Ashish is accused of shooting dead a farmer while trying to escape agitated farmers after vehicles in the Minister’s convoy rammed into them. “The charges are serious,” Chief Justice Ramana addressed Salve. The latter said a notice had been issued to Ashish, asking him to appear before the police by 11 a.m. “tomorrow”. “If the person does not come, the rigour of law will take its course,” he assured.

The CJI asked sharply, “Is it the same way you treat other accused too? Like sending notices, etc?”

Salve said he was instructed by the State that the postmortem report on the victim did not show bullet injuries. “That is why notice was issued. If the allegations are true, it is certainly a Section 302 IPC [murder] case,” he stated.

After conferring for a moment, the CJI addressed Salve, “This is the opinion of the Bench... As a responsible State government with a system and police, when there is a serious allegation of death or gunshot injury, will any other accused in this country be treated the same way?”

Salve remarked that the investigators had found two cartridges and “may be he had bad aim”. Chief Justice Ramana told Salve, “It is an extremely serious issue, you are not proceeding in the way you should be... Imagine, what is the message we are sending out? In normal circumstances, a case of Section 302 IPC will be registered. The police will go out and arrest that person”.

The senior lawyer urged the court to give some more time to the State to repair the shortfalls in the investigation. He said everything would fall in place in a day or two. He would talk to the Home Secretary and the DGP.

“They [State] should have done the needful... They have to make another pudding and make it palatable,” Salve agreed with the court. He said the court could list the case immediately on reopening after the Dussehra holidays. The Bench posted the case for October 20 as the first item on the list.

“We have respect for you, Salve. We hope the State will take the necessary steps,” the CJI observed.

Will gherao PM’s residence if culprits not arrested in 7 days, says Chandrashekhar Azad

Azad Samaj Party (ASP) chief and Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday said he and his supporters will gherao the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi if the culprits of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident are not arrested within seven days.

“The Prime Msinister tweets on every issue but he is yet to react on the killing of the farmers. The culprits are roaming free. We will gherao the PM’s residence if the culprits are not arrested within seven days,” Azad said at a press conference.

“PM Modi was celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ in Lucknow when the families of farmers were in mourning,” he said.  Those who are mum on the killing of farmers cannot be loyal to the country. The Prime Minister should talk to farmers, go to Lakhimpur Kheri and meet family members of slain farmers, he said.

The Dalit leader compared the October 3 incident to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and said it will have huge repercussions in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections next year.

Azad alleged there is no law and order in Uttar Pradesh and demanded that the CM tender his resignation.

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