A CBI investigation into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident is “not a solution… because of the persons (involved)” the Supreme Court said Friday as it heard a PIL, or public interest litigation, on Sunday’s violence and the death of eight people, including four farmers.
“CBI is not a solution, for reasons known to you… because of the persons… better some other person looks into (this),” Chief Justice NV Ramana told senior lawyer Harish Salve.
The court’s observation was in response to one of the petitioners’ requests – that the investigation into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident be handled by the central agency.
“Is there any request by the state (Uttar Pradesh) to hand this over to the CBI?” the court asked Mr Salve, to which he replied: “State has not made such a request… entirely in your lordships’ hands… if you are not satisfied with the investigation, hand it over to the CBI.”
“Mr Salve, we have respect for you. We hope state will take necessary steps, due to the sensitive issue. We are not making comments (but) CBI is not a solution,” the CJI responded.
The top court’s reluctance to hand over the case to the CBI could be seen as concern over the agency’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation, given that a Union Minister’s son is among those accused.
Violence broke out in Lakhimpur Kheri this weekend after a convoy of cars – at least one of which belonged to Union Minister Ajay Mishra – rammed into a group of farmers holding a protest.
Four farmers were killed in the crash and four others, including a journalist and a BJP worker, died in the fight that broke out and left two vehicles ablaze.
Farmers have alleged the lead car – a SUV – was driven by the minister’s son, Ashish, who has been charged with murder but has yet to be arrested.
Nearly a week after the incident, and after the Supreme Court questioned the UP government and police, Ashish Mishra was summoned for questioning today.
However, he skipped the summons, leaving a senior UP Police official waiting.
Senior UP police officials have told NDTV there is no question of anyone being “spared”. “Technical evidence is permanent. It cannot be influenced…” ADGP Prashant Kumar said.
Both Ashish Mishra and his father have denied all charges. Mr Mishra told NDTV that the car belonged to his family but neither he nor his son were in it when the incident took place.
There have also been demands for Ajay Mishra to resign. Mr Mishra met his boss, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, this week, after which government sources ruled out his quitting