The Supreme Court on Monday, November 8, expressed dissatisfaction over the Uttar Pradesh policeâ€™s probe into the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violence during a farmers' protest. The bench, headed by CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli, said that the investigation was "not going the way we expected."
The Supreme Court bench suggested that a former High Court judge monitor the ongoing probe by the Uttar Pradesh police into the Lakhimpur Kheri case. It suggested the names of former judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justices Rakesh Kumar Jain or Ranjit Singh, for overseeing the probe till filing of the charge sheets in the cases is completed.
According to LiveLaw, the bench was dissatisfied that the mobile phones of the accused have not yet been seized, and that forensic lab reports on the video evidence have not yet come. The bench sought the response of the Uttar Pradesh government, represented by senior advocates Harish Salve and Garima Prasad, by Friday, November 12. Earlier, the bench had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide protection to witnesses under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 and 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.
The police have so far arrested 13 accused, including Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, in connection with the case.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group, agitating against the Union governmentâ€™s farm laws, was holding a demonstration against the visit of Uttar Pradesh 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.
Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish Mishra was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down four protesters and killed them, but the minister has denied the allegations.