The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government and Lakhimpur Kheri violence accused Ashish Mishra and asked them to file a reply on a plea challenging the grant of bail to him by the Allahabad High Court.
Taking note of the alleged attack on a witness, a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana directed the state government to take necessary steps to ensure the protection of witnesses in the case.
Advocate Dushyant Dave, along with lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appeared for the farmers seeking cancellation of bail granted to Ashish Mishra on February 10 by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
“The learned judge of the high court has completely misdirected himself on the principles governing grant of bail particularly when the trial court, by a very well reasoned order had refused bail,” Mr Dave argued at the outset.
The high court did not even refer to the fact that the top court had taken a suo motu cognizance of the case because of its seriousness and had constituted the SIT which filed a detailed charge sheet after a thorough probe, the senior lawyer said.
The Supreme Court will hear the matter next on March 24.
On Tuesday, advocate Prashant Bhushan had informed the court that there was an attack on one of the prime witnesses of the case.
Mr Bhushan also said other accused in the matter were also approaching the Allahabad high court for bail seeking parity with the prime accused.
Three family members of farmers who were killed in the violence have sought a stay on the bail order of the high court, saying the verdict was “unsustainable in the eyes of law as there has been no meaningful and effective assistance by the state to the court in the matter”.
On October 3, last year, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.