To ensure “transparency, fairness and absolute impartiality in the probe, the Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor the ongoing investigation into the deaths and violence that took place in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3.
A Bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to include three senior IPS officers — SB Shirodkar, Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan — as the Special Investigation Team (SIT) “predominantly comprises of middle level/sub-ordinate level police officers posted in district Lakhimpur Kheri”.
“In spite of their perceived commitment and sincerity in carrying out the investigation, there may still be a lurking suspicion in respect of the fairness and independence of such an investigation,” the judges said, adding that would hear the case after the chargesheet is filed and a report is received from the retired judge.
It also directed the SIT to make all efforts to conclude the investigation expeditiously. In its order, the judges said: “We deem it appropriate to re-constitute the SIT hereinafter to preserve the faith and trust of people in the criminal administration of the justice system. Further, to assure full and complete justice to the victims of crime, we are inclined to order that the ongoing investigation be monitored by a retired High Court Judge, who too may not have his roots in Uttar Pradesh.”
Justice Jain was appointed as the apex court’s expressed its waning confidence about the fate of the investigation at the hands of the police. Even the UP government had agreed to the appointment of the retired judge.
“The investigation is not going the way we expected… We are here to see that a proper investigation takes place. There is a need to appoint a retired High Court judge to monitor it without bias,” the CJI had said during an earlier hearing.
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. 13 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.