After the Uttar Pradesh government agreed to the appointment of a former high court judge from outside the state, the Supreme Court on Monday said it will appoint a judge by Wednesday to monitor the ongoing probe into the deaths that took place in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Senior lawyer Harish Salve, appearing for the state government, told a Bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana that he has no objection to any judge that the SC deems appropriate, but the apex court should not begin by looking for a judge “who is from outside Uttar Pradesh.”
“It needs one more day’s time as it’s considering former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Rakesh Kumar Jain or others,” the Bench said. Expressing concern about the level of officers on the investigation team, the CJI said that “the concern is that you have to upgrade the taskforce that is probing the case. There needs to be higher grade officers,” Ramana said.
“Most officials in the current SIT are from Lakhimpur only. You give us the names of IPS officers who are from the UP cadre but don’t belong to UP,” Justice Surya Kant, who is also part of the Bench told the UP government.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had slammed the Uttar Pradesh police over its probe into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, saying it will appoint a former judge from the Punjab and Haryana High Court to monitor the ongoing investigation so as to “infuse independence, fairness and impartiality to it.” It had suggested the names of Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain (retired) or Justice Ranjit Singh (retired) from Punjab and Haryana HC to oversee the ongoing investigation.
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 the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, ran over them. Thirteen people, including prime suspect Ashish Mishra, have so far been arrested in the case. Ashish was arrested after the apex court pulled up the UP government over the delay in arresting the accused. The top court had acted on a letter petition sent by advocates Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C S Panda who sought CBI probe into the matter.