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Dispel impression of dragging feet in Lakhimpur case, apex court tells Uttar Pradesh government

Stock photo: Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Oct 20 (MNN) As the Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed hearing in the suo motu case pertaining to the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri incident, the apex court said that it was getting the impression that the Uttar Pradesh government was “dragging its feet” in the case and asked it to dispel that feeling.

Four farmers and a journalist were mowed down allegedly by a four-wheeler of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, while three others were killed in the violence that followed.

When Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of the UP government, told the Bench that a status report as directed had been filed in a “sealed cover”, the court pointed out that there was no direction regarding sealed cover.

A Bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli had decided to hear the matter after the Dussehra vacations and directed the state to preserve the evidence in the case till then.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the Bench also opined at one point in time that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was “not a solution”.

Salve informed the court that 10 accused had been arrested in the first FIR regarding the mowing down of the farmers, of which four accused were in police custody at present.

The Chief Justice pointed out that though there were 44 witnesses in the case, the statements of only four have been recorded. Why have no other witnesses being recorded under Section 164 CrPC, asked the court. Salve then replied that statements were being recorded when the courts closed for Dussehra vacations.

As for protection of witnesses who were vulnerable, the state counsel assured that the state will provide security to them.

After the state counsel sought further time to record statements of other witnesses in the case, the Bench ordered the matter to be listed on October 27.

Meanwhile, lawyer Shiv Kumar Tripathi, who had written to the apex court on the matter, informed the Bench that they had not been given a copy of the status report. The court said it will take up the issue in the next hearing.

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