The Supreme Court has admonished the UP government for what it terms a 'slow paced' investigation into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence that took place in early October of this year. In a hearing two weeks ago the SC had also questioned the UP government as to why there were only 32 witnesses in the case.
The plea to bring in a CBI investigation was quashed as the court recommended that an ex-High Court judge be brought in to monitor the Special Investigation Team's probe into the matter.
"CBI is not the solution to everything. We want a retired HC Judge to monitor the probe and filing of separate charge-sheets. We want to protect the evidence collected," Justice N V Ramana was quoted as saying. The bench also said that it was 'not confident' about the manner in which evidence was being collected and recorded by the investigators.
"The court noted that as per UP police, there were 16 accused in the incident where farmers were mowed down and 3 lynched, but that only one mobile phone had been confiscated from lead accused Ashish Mishra. The apex court questioned the police on statements that the accused had thrown away their mobile phones as it was not recorded in the status report.
On October 26, the Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide protection to witnesses under the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018. The top court had also asked the Uttar Pradesh government 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.