New Delhi: Terming "unfortunate" the killing of eight people including four farmers in the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri incident, the Supreme Court on Thursday sought a status report by Friday from the Uttar Pradesh government on the accused named by the police in FIR and whether they have been arrested.
The apex court has also sought details of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the judicial enquiry commission, reportedly set up by the state government.
The incident, which triggered a major political storm with the opposition parties accusing the BJP government in UP of shielding the culprits, was heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana as a suo motu (on its own) case.
“You yourself have pointed out, it has also been reported and it is in the letter petition, which we have received, that eight persons, some of them are farmers and one is journalist and there are other persons also who have been killed. These all are unfortunate incidents in which different persons have been murdered," the bench said.
“We need to know who are the accused persons against whom you have registered the FIR and whether they have been arrested or not. Please explain this in your status report,” it said and fixed the case for hearing on Friday.
The bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, started by saying, “Grievance is that you are not looking into it (incident) properly and the FIR is not registered properly,”
Lawyer Garima Prasad, appearing for the state government, also termed the incident as unfortunate and said that an SIT and the judicial commission of inquiry have been set up by the government and she may provide the details in the status report.
“I can get details by tomorrow... The judicial commission of inquiry is being led by a former judge of the Allahabad High Court judge”, she said and sought a copy of the letter whose cognizance has been taken by the bench.
“You also tell us about the status of the PIL before the Allahabad High Court in the case...tomorrow we are listing. Get all the instructions,” the bench observed orally.
During the brief hearing, the CJI referred to a message to the court.
“We have received one message when the hearing is going on from one Amrti Pal Singh Khalsa that the mother of the deceased Lovepreet Singh is in critical condition due to shock of loss of her son. She needs immediate medical assistance. This says that the court may direct the state of UP to grant medical facilities to her...
“You (state lawyer) please, immediately tell your state government so that it can take care of the mother of the deceased...extend all medical facilities. You can get her admitted in a nearest government medical college,” the bench observed.
Earlier in the day, the top court said it would like to hear the two lawyers who had written a letter seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people were killed in violence during a farmers' protest.
The bench said that the letter was to be registered as a PIL and due to some “miscommunication” it was listed as the suo motu (on its own) case.
"Does not matter, we will hear it nonetheless,” said the bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The bench asked the court officials to intimate the two lawyers - Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C S Panda – to appear and passed over the case.
“This letter is addressed by two lawyers. We directed the Registry to register this as a PIL but due to some miscommunication, it was listed as a suo motu.. . Inform both the lawyers who wrote the letter to be present,” the CJI said.
The matter was again taken up and adjourned to tomorrow after the oral directions to the state government.
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 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 of IPC (murder) 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.
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.