The Supreme Court on January 25 granted interim bail for eight weeks to Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, in the October 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence case (Ashish Mishra Alias Monu versus State of U.P.). The bail for eight weeks has been granted with stringent conditions, and the bench has asked the key accused to leave the State of Uttar Pradesh within one week of availing interim bail and directed him not to stay either in the State of UP or the NCT of Delhi during the period of interim bail. The Supreme Court also granted interim bail to four persons accused in the cross-case associated with the lynching of three persons. Though only the bail application of Mishra was before the court, it also decided to raise its suo motu powers to grant interim bail to the accused in the cross-case.
The bench was presided over by Justices Surya Kant and J K Maheshwari, which said that further extension of Ashish Mishra’s bail would be contingent upon his conduct during the release.
The Supreme Court bench has further directed him to surrender his passport before the trial court. He can enter the State of Uttar Pradesh only to attend the trial court proceedings. Any possible efforts by the key accused, his family members or supporters to impact or threaten the witness, directly or indirectly, shall result in the termination of bail.
The court also stated that it would monitor the trial in the case.
In this case, vehicles of Ashish Mishra’s convoy allegedly ran over a group of farmers who were protesting against the farm laws. Following the incident, the driver of the SUV and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers. A journalist was also killed in the violence.
The previous year on December 6, a Lakimpuri Kheri court framed charges against Ashish Mishra and 13 others in connection with the killing of four farmers and a journalist in the district last year. The court charged the 14 accused, including Ashish Mishra, with Indian Penal Code sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 149 (committing an offence with a common intention), 326 (dismemberment), 307 (murderous assault), 302 (Murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 427 (causing damage to property) and found sufficient grounds for framing of charges under section 177 (punishment for violation of Motor Vehicles Act) of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Mishra was arrested on October 9, 2021, and was granted bail by the high court in February 2022. However, his bail was cancelled by the Supreme Court, which had also asked the high court to decide a new Mishra’s bail plea while giving due hearings to victims’ families, and asked Mishra to surrender again.
The bench specified that there were two distinct FIRs with different accounts. However, the location and foundation of the incident are one and the same. The question regarding who are the persons accountable for the upsetting incident can be determined only after a full-fledged trial. Hence, the court decided to exercise its suo motu constitutional powers and extended the benefit of interim bail to the undertrial accused involved in the other matter as well.
Subsequently, the court directed that the four accused, who were arrested and whose bail applications were said to be pending before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, are released on interim bail pending further orders, which is conditional on their providing of the bail bond to the trial court.
The court has listed the matter for March 14 for further directions.