New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor day-to-day probe in connection with the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri that claimed the lives of eight people, including four farmers and three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers. The court also reconstituted the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the state government and said that IPS officers SB Shirodkar, Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan will be a part of it.

"Justice Jain manned Commission will ensure impartiality and independence of the investigation...The investigation will be by SIT under Justice Jain and matter will be listed after chargesheet is filed," the court said, as reported by Bar and Bench.

The top court said it would hear the case again after the SIT concludes its probe and files the status report and the charge sheet in the case. The Uttar Pradesh government on November 15 had agreed to the apex court's suggestion that a former judge of its choice may be appointed to supervise the state SIT's probe.

Earlier on Monday, the court had suggested that a former judge of a "different high court" should monitor the Uttar Pradesh SIT probe on day-to-day basis in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case to infuse "independence, impartiality and fairness", saying the investigation was not going the way it expected.

Red flagging some of the issues pertaining to the SIT probe conducted so far, the top court had said, “prima facie it appears that one particular accused (in the farmers' mowing down case) is sought to be given benefit” by securing or procuring evidence from witnesses in the subsequent case related to the lynching of political activists by the farmers' mob.

It was also very critical of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of state police has seized the mobile of Ashish Mishra, one of the arrested 13 accused, and rest of the phones belonged to the witnesses to the alleged mowing down of the farmers.

“We have seen the status report. There is nothing in the status report except to say that some more witnesses have been examined. We granted 10 days time. Laboratory reports have not come. No, no, is not going the way we expected,” said the bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana.

Reiterating its earlier observation to rule out a CBI probe into the October 3 incident, the bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, had said it did not want to add any “political overtones” to the case and an independent retired judge should monitor the probe.

Earlier, the bench had also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide protection to witnesses under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 and to record the statements of other witnesses before the judicial magistrate under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and expedite the examination of digital evidence by experts.

The police has so far arrested 13 accused, including Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, in connection with the case. The apex court was hearing a matter about the October 3 violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in which eight persons including four farmers were killed during a farmers' protest.

Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in the convoy at Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre's three new farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3. Two BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by the angry protesters, and a local journalist was killed in the violence.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma