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SC seeks time schedule for conclusion of trial

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the sessions court judge to specify the tentative time schedule for completion of the trial involving Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son Ashish and 12 others for alleged murder and related offences in the case of mowing down of protesting farmers in October 2021 in Lakhimpur Kheri.

The top court also asked the Uttar Pradesh government, which opposed the bail plea of Ashish Mishra terming the offence as “grave”, to file an affidavit with regard to the status of the second case filed over the killing of three occupants of the SUV, which allegedly mowed down the farmers.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Krishna Murari said it needs to balance the interest of all the parties including the accused, the victims and society at large.

“We have to see that the accused, who is inside the jail for over one year, also has rights. Now the charge sheet has been filed and charges have been framed. The victims and witnesses also have their rights. Even society has an interest in the case. Now, we have to balance all the rights in the case,” it said.

The bench also asked the Additional District and Sessions judge hearing the second case related to the killing of the occupants of the car, to consider the desirability of framing charges.

It posted the matter for further hearing on January 11.

On December 6, the trial court framed charges against Ashish and 12 others for murder, criminal conspiracy and related offences in the case of the mowing down of protesting farmers in October 2021 in Lakhimpur Kheri, paving the way for the start of the trial.

A total of 13 accused, including Ashish Mishra, have been charged under IPC sections 147 and 148 related to rioting, 149 (unlawful assembly), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 427 (mischief) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), and section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra, is the main accused in the case.

The other 12 accused are Ankit Das, Nandan Singh Bisht, Latif Kale, Satyam alias Satya Prakash Tripathi, Shekhar Bharti, Sumit Jaiswal, Ashish Pandey, Lavkush Rana, Shishu Pal, Ullas Kumar alias Mohit Trivedi, Rinku Rana and Dharmendra Banjara. All of them are in jail.

On October 3, 2021, eight people were killed in Tikunia in the Lakhimpur Kheri district during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against the then Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.

Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV, in which Ashish Mishra was seated, according to the Uttar Pradesh Police FIR.

Following the incident, the driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers. A journalist also died in the violence.

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