“Grave Offence”, But Ministers Son “No Flight Risk”: UP To Supreme Court

NDTV News

Lakhimpur Case: The high court granted bail to Ashish Mishra in February.

New Delhi:

Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, accused of running over farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, is “not a flight risk”, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court today on a petition challenging his bail.

While asserting that the offence is grave, the UP government also argued that witnesses had been provided security so there could be “no tampering”.

Ashish Mishra is not a repeat offender, UP said. “If he had been a repeat offender bail should not be granted,” said the state government, represented by Mahesh Jethmalani.

The Supreme Court had asked UP to respond to a Special Investigation Team report recommending cancellation of bail.

Ashish Mishra’s lawyer told the judges that if Supreme Court cancelled his bail, “no other court will touch the matter”.

After arguments, the Supreme Court reserved its order on a petition challenging bail granted to Ashish Mishra by the Allahabad High Court on February 10.

The bail was challenged by families of the farmers run over by an SUV allegedly driven by Ashish Mishra on October 3 last year, during a protest against three controversial farm laws.

Chief Justice NV Ramana said, “We cannot force you to file an appeal against the bail. What is your stand?”

The UP government, accused of going soft on the son of the influential Union Minister, told the Supreme Court that it had argued before the High Court that it was a grave offence and “no words were enough to condemn the offence”.

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“The offence is grave. Whether or not crime was with deliberate intent can only be examined at trial stage. Intention of offence is a nuanced matter, can be discussed only at trial stage,” Mr Jethmalani said, on behalf of the UP government.

UP said it had “vehemently” opposed before the Allahabad High Court.

“The High Court granted bail despite our arguments. People died by crushing of a vehicle. The issue is not bullet injury.”

Granting bail to Ashish Mishra, the High Court had raised questions about some of the charges listed by the police, including firing at protesters.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case in toto, it is evident that as per the FIR, the role of firing was assigned to the applicant (Ashish Mishra) for killing the protesters, but during the course of investigation, no such firearm injuries were found either on the body of any of the deceased or on the body of any injured person,” the court had said.

Eight people died in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. After four farmers and a journalist were crushed by the convoy of Union Minister’s son, three more, including BJP workers, were killed in violence that broke out later.

The farmers’ families said Ashish Mishra’s bail must be cancelled as he is a threat to witnesses. A witness was attacked in March and attackers had issued threats citing the BJP’s victory in the recent UP election, they alleged.

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