"Upgrade" Farmers' Killing Probe Team, Supreme Court Tells UP. Here's Why

Lakhimpur Farmers' Killing: Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that it can choose a retired High Court judge to head the probe.

'Upgrade' Farmers' Killing Probe Team, Supreme Court Tells UP. Here's Why

Lakhimpur Violence: Supreme Court told UP government to upgrade SIT. (File)

New Delhi:

Officers investigating the killing of four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri last month should be "upgraded", the Supreme Court today told the Uttar Pradesh government, asking for a list of senior officers.

The UP government has left it to the Supreme Court to select a retired High Court judge to head the probe. The court said it needs a day to consider the names.

But the court expressed concern about the level of officers on the team.

"The concern is that you have to upgrade the taskforce that is probing the case. There need to be higher grade officers," said Chief Justice NV Ramana.

Justice Surya Kant agreed: "Most officials in the current SIT (Special Investigation Team) are from Lakhimpur only. You give us the names of IPS officers who are from the UP cadre but don't belong to UP."

The case will be taken up again on Wednesday.

The UP government has faced many tough questions while fighting the case involving farmers run over in Lakhimpur Kheri, allegedly by Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra.

Eight people were killed on October 3 at Lakhimpur Kheri during a farmers' protest. Four more, including a journalist, were killed in violence after four farmers were crushed by the Union Minister's convoy.

Last week, the Supreme Court said it wants a retired High Court judge to oversee the case and that it was "not going the way we expected".

The judges also said it appeared that two overlapping FIRs in the case were only aimed at protecting "one particular accused" and that the investigations were not kept separate as they should be. The judges did not name Ashish Mishra, who was arrested on October 11.

In previous hearings, the UP government was asked why there were "only 23 eyewitnesses" to the violence, and was ordered to gather more witnesses and give them protection. The UP government was also told to "dispel the feeling that you are dragging your feet" on the case.