SC seeks ‘timeline’ for Mishra’s bail trial

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the additional sessions judge in Uttar Pra­de­sh’s Lakhimpur Kheri to provide the timeline for deciding the bail petition of Ashish Mishra, Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son, who has been in custody for a year when the violence claimed eight lives in 2021.

FPJ BureauUpdated: Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 03:18 AM IST
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Supreme Court of India | PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the additional sessions judge in Uttar Pra­de­sh’s Lakhimpur Kheri to provide the timeline for deciding the bail petition of Ashish Mishra, Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son, who has been in custody for a year when the violence claimed eight lives in 2021.

Listing his bail plea on Jan 11, a Bench of Justices Surya Kant and Krishna Murari said: “The Registrar Judicial is directed to find out from the first Additional Sessions Judge, Lakhimpur, how mu­ch time the trial will take without compromising with pending or prioritised matters. A tentative schedule shall be submitted as the case is tried on an out-of-turn basis.” It said a balance ought to be struck among factors — holding a fair trial, providing protection to victims and witnesses and consideration for the rights of the accused. The trial may begin from Dec 16.

“We have reached from the stage of probe to the framing of charges. As many as 200 witnesses have to testify. At what point should the bail be granted. In a case if a trial needs reasonable time to complete, what stage should bail be given? How long sho­uld he be kept in custody? It should not be a pre-judging of his case,” Justice Kant said.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who appeared for the victims and families, said there was nothing “special” or “exceptional” in the Mi­sh­ra case. The SC did not intervene when both the trial and the high courts refused bail in the murder cases. “This is no case where the accused’s right needs to be considered. Three witnesses have already been attacked… They are extraordinarily powerful…He (Mishra) wanted to go and teach the protesting farmers a lesson,” Mr Dave argued.

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If somebody can kill innocent people in a pre-planned manner and can get bail, it can create a dangerous scenario for the future," Mr Dave argued.

“He is in custody because the law finds it deserving,” Mr Dave told the judge.

He said the accused had filed “manipulated” documents in lower courts. “In a case as heinous as this, bail should not be granted.” The SC said the State must continue to protect witnesses.

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Ranjit Kumar and Siddharth Dave, who appeared for Mishra, argued that their client was not in the vehicle which caused the “mishap”.

They contended that Mishra was at a wrestling match 4km away. Spectators there could vouch his presence. There was no proof of anyone dying from bullet wounds. The car, at the centre of the incident, may have been trying to escape stone-pelting by agitators. This was no “pre-planned murder”. It was only a “fracas”, Mr Rohatgi argued.

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