NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed unhappiness over the pace of probe by the Uttar Pradesh police in the Lakhimpur Kheri case and recommended monitoring of SIT investigations by a retired high court judge.
The top court bench headed by CJI N V Ramana said ‘no’ to CBI probe into the incident and said “CBI is not the solution to everything. We want a retured HC Judge to monitor the probe and filing of separate chargesheets. We want to protect the evidence collected.”
The Supreme Court was hearing the matter related to the October 3 incident in which eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violence during a farmers’ protest.
The apex court said it is not confident about the manner in which the evidence is being recorded by the UP SIT.
It sought UP government’s views on appointing former Punjab and Haryana HC Judge Ranjit Singh to oversee the manner in which witnesses’ statements are being recorded and avoid mixing of the cases.
The top court said both incidents – mowing down of protesting farmers by a vehicle and the lynching of the accused – have to be investigated and taken to a logical conclusion.
Here is the court’s observations in the case-
* The SC asked UP police why mobile phones of all accused in the case have not been seized, except that of prime accused Ashish Mishra so far. “Did other accused not use cell phones,” the SC asked.
* SC admonished police by saying ‘pace of probe is not up to expectation’.
* The court noted that as per UP police there were 16 accused in farmer mowing down incident of which 3 were lynched. “Why have you seized phone of one accused? Where have you said in status report that rest of the accused threw away their mobiles but the police have recovered CDRs,” it asked.
* The apex court said the prima facie view it gets is that one particular accused being benefited by recording statements of witnesses in a particular manner. “What will happen to investigation then,” it asked.
* Supreme Court says there is nothing in the status report apart from saying that more witnesses have been examined.
* SC asks UP govt whether it would appoint Justice Ranjit Singh for monitoring the investigation being carried out by SIT into the incidents of killing of four farmers, death of a journalist and the lynching of three accused in the incident. UP says it would respond by Friday.
* The Supreme Court said no to CBI probe into the incident saying CBI is not the solution to everything. “We want a retd HC Judge to monitor the probe and filing of separate chargesheets. We want to protect the evidence collected,” said a bench led by CJI N V Ramana. Next hearing on Friday.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli heard the matter in which the apex court had on October 26 directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide protection to witnesses under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018.
The top court had also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to record the statements of other witnesses before the judicial magistrate under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and expedite the examination of digital evidence by experts.
Statements under section 164 of the CrPC are recorded before a judicial magistrate and they have evidentiary value.
The bench had sought a status report from the state government on the alleged lynching of a journalist and one Shyam Sundar by the mob, after a vehicle mowed down four protesting farmers.
The top court is hearing the Lakhimpur Kheri matter after two lawyers had written to the CJI seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the incident.
About the incident
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre’s three farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of Uttar Pradesh deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3.
Two BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by the angry protesters, while a local journalist was also killed in the violence.
Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish Mishra was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down the protesters but the minister has denied the allegations.
The police have so far arrested several accused, including Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra.
Farmers’ protest
Several farmer organisations are protesting against the three laws — The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 — since last November.
The apex court had stayed the implementation of these laws in January.
Initially, the protests started from Punjab but later spread to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
(With inputs from agencies)


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