The Supreme Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to grant protection to witnesses of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case and that their statements should be recorded expeditiously.
Violence in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 had claimed the lives of eight persons including four farmers. The four others included a journalist, two BJP workers and a driver. Ten people, including Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, have been arrested in connection with the violence that has triggered a political slugfest ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana asked the Uttar Pradesh government, represented by senior advocates Harish Salve and Garima Prasad, to record the statements of other relevant witnesses before judicial magistrates under section 164 of the CrPC.
"We direct the District judge concerned to entrust the task of recording of evidence under section 164 of the CrPC to the nearest judicial magistrates available," said the bench which also comprised justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli. The bench asked Salve to convey its concerns to forensic labs and experts on the preparation of reports on the electronic evidence of the incident.
The top court, meanwhile, asked the state government to also file its report on two complaints including the one related to the lynching of a journalist. "The state is directed to file separate replies in the cases," the bench said and fixed the plea for further hearing on November 8.
Observing that the probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence should not be an 'unending story', the Supreme Court on October 20 had rapped the government, saying the court was getting the impression that the state police was dragging its feet, and also ordered the protection of witnesses.