Lakhimpur Kheri: UP to appoint former HC judge to monitor probe
The Uttar Pradesh government has accepted the Supreme Court’s suggestion to appoint a former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge to monitor the police probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, which the court has said “is not going the way we expected”.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the state government, indicated this on Friday to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana.
Salve sought adjournment till Monday, by when the state is expected to name the judge from a list of two recommended by the apex court.
On November 8, the court had said that either Justice Ranjit Singh or Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, both former Punjab and Haryana High Court judges, should be appointed to monitor the probe and sought the state’s views by Friday.
Ashis Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, is accused of leading a convoy of cars that allegedly mowed down four protesting farmers and a journalist in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. A driver and two BJP activists were then allegedly lynched by angry farmers.
On November 8, the bench --- which includes Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli --- had said that having a former high court judge as monitor would inject “independence, impartiality and fairness” into the probe.
It had said this would also ensure that the special investigation team (SIT) of the state police didn’t use the lynching FIR against the farmers to protect those accused of mowing down farmers.
“Prima facie it appears that one particular accused (in the killing of farmers) is sought to be given benefit” by procuring evidence from witnesses in the lynching case, the bench had said.
It had added that the probe was too tardy, asked why the SIT had failed to seize the mobile phones of all but one accused, and castigated the state for furnishing a shoddy probe status report.
“The pace of the probe is not up to expectations. It (investigation) is not going the way we expected,” the court had said.
The bench is dealing with a letter petition from two Supreme Court advocates, Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C.S. Panda, seeking an independent probe into the deaths.
Although the matter was to be heard on Friday, Salve urged the bench: “Would your Lordships give me time till Monday? We have almost got it done. We are working something on it.”
Justice Ramana agreed.