“We think you are dragging your feet. You please dispel this,” the Supreme Court on Wednesday, October 20, told the Uttar Pradesh government while hearing the Lakhimpur Kheri matter, and asked it to record statements of remaining witnesses in the case before a judicial magistrate. The apex court, which was hearing a matter pertaining to the October 3 violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in which eight persons, including four farmers, were killed during a farmers' protest, was told by the state government that statements of four out of the 44 witnesses have been recorded by the judicial magistrate.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana perused the status report filed by the state government in the matter in a sealed cover. The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, was told by the state that the process of recording statements of witnesses before the judicial magistrate is going on. The Supreme Court has posted the matter for hearing on October 26.
The top court is hearing the matter after two lawyers had written a letter to the CJI seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the incident. Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre's three new 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. Ten people, including Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, have been arrested so far in connection with the case.
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.