The Supreme Court has taken cognisance of the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people were killed in violence during a farmers' protest, with a bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana scheduled to hear the matter on Thursday. The incident has triggered a major political storm with opposition parties accusing the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh of shielding the culprits.
According to the causelist uploaded on the apex court website, a three-judge bench comprising CJI Ramana and justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli would hear the matter titled 'In re violence in Lakhimpur Kheri (UP) leading to loss of life' on Thursday.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Union government's farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of UP Deputy Chief Minister 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.
An FIR under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been registered against the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra and others in the incident in Tikonia police station but no arrest has been made so far. Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down the protesters but the minister has denied the allegations.
Additional Director General (Law and Order) of the state Prashant Kumar had announced on Monday that the government will order a probe headed by a retired High Court judge and give compensation of Rs 45 lakh each to the families of the dead farmers. Their kin will also get a government job. The injured will get Rs 10 lakh
Two lawyers had on Tuesday written a letter to the CJI seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, involving the CBI, under the supervision of the apex court into the incident. The letter by the two advocates had urged the CJI to treat it as public interest litigation (PIL) so that guilty could be brought to justice . It had also sought direction to the Home Ministry and the police to register an FIR in the case and punish those involved in the incident.
The apex court, while hearing a separate plea by a farmers' body protesting against the three new farm laws and seeking directions to authorities to allow it to stage satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, had on Monday observed that nobody takes the responsibility when such incidents happen.
The observations by the top court had come when Attorney General K K Venugopal referred to the unfortunate incident at Lakhimpur Kheri. Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of 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 in November last year and later spread to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.