The Supreme Court is hearing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case today, a week after it rapped the Uttar Pradesh police for "dragging its feet" in the investigation.
The Uttar Pradesh government faced tough questions earlier as well from the Supreme Court on the killing of farmers at a protest in Lakhimpur Kheri and was told sternly to "dispel the feeling that you are dragging your feet".
Ordering the UP government to protect and record the statement of all witnesses, the Supreme Court also admonished, "This should not be an unending story".
Eight people, including four farmers and a journalist, were killed on October 3 during a farmers' protest in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district. An SUV, allegedly belonging to Union minister of state for home affairs Ajay Mishra's convoy, ran over them. Thirteen people, including Ashish Mishra, the prime suspect in the case and the Union minister's son, have so far been arrested.
Here are the updates on Lakhimpur Kheri Violence Hearing:
The Uttar Pradesh government once again had a tough day in court today in the case involving farmers run over in Lakhimpur Kheri, allegedly by Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra. The Supreme Court, questioning why there were "only 23 eyewitnesses" to the violence on October 3 in the UP district, ordered the state to gather more witnesses and give them protection.
The Supreme Court, in its order, directed UP to record statements of more witnesses. "If there is any difficulty in recording statements and unavailability of judicial officers, then the nearest district judge has to ensure the availability of a substitute," the court said.
Justice Surya Kant: Crowd of 400-5000 people and local people
Harish Salve: Some outsiders but largely local
Justice Surya Kant: Even post incident so many in the area have been protesting seeking enquiry etc. It should not be tough for you to identify those who were present?
Harish Salve for UP Govt: Its about people who actually saw those who were in the car
CJI: You know in these cases there is always a possibility of...(does not finish the sentence)
Harish Salve: We understand
CJI: Ask your agency to see how many more people than those 23 who can talk about the inciden, who saw something.
Harish Salve for UP Govt: Can we show you in a sealed cover about some of the recorded statements of the witnesses?
CJI: Statements of witnessed recorded?
Garima Prasad for UP Govt: Statements of some other witnesses are yet to be recorded
Harish Salve for UP Govt: Out of 68 witnesses statements recorded of 30 witnesses and 23 of these 30 are eye witnesses. Many of them are formal witnesses that have led to recovery etc.
CJI: Huge rally of farmers and only 23 eye-witnesses?
Harish Salve for UP govt: We gave public ads seeking who are eye witnesses. Then those came forward who had actually seen the people in the car. We have also taken note of all the phone videos and videography of the event.