The Supreme Court has asked the Uttar Pradesh government for the status of the investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri case. Justice Hima Kohli told Senior Advocate Harish Salve who appeared for the state that the court thinks that the UP government is dragging its feet.
"We waited till 1 AM last night that we will get material," Chief Justice of India NV Ramana told senior lawyer Harish Salve, who is representing the UP government.
Salve said the report had been submitted in a sealed cover yesterday.
"How can we read it if it gets filed last minute? At least file it a day before," the Chief Justice shot back.
Eight people, including four farmers and a scribe, were killed during a farmers' protest in Lakhimpur Kheri when vehicles mowed them down. One of the vehicles was an SUV owned by Union MoS for Home Ajay Mishra.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, Justice Surya Kant, and Justice Hima Kohli had asked about the recording of statements of witnesses under Section 164 CrPC.
The Uttar Pradesh government filed a status report saying four witness statements have been recorded before the judicial magistrate under section 164. There were 44 witnesses to the incident. Justice Kant asked why only four statements have been recorded. He also pointed out that the statements under section 164 have more evidentiary value, reported The Indian Express.
Justice Kant also asked why Special Investigation Team hasn't recognised the most vulnerable witnesses.
Advocate Salve responded saying that the courts closed on account of Dussehra when the statements were being recorded. Justice Kohli expressed surprise over the statement and said, "We think you are dragging your feet. So please dispel that impression." CJI Ramana too backed the sentiment.
Salve responded to the concern expressed by the bench on the previous hearing about the non-arrest of the accused. "Now everybody is arrested and they are in jail," said the counsel.
He said that there are two crimes - one where they drove into farmers and second, where those who drove vehicles were lynched. "The latter is more difficult to probe because there are many farmer protesters."
When the CJI asked if that is the counter FIR, Salve answered yes. The bench, however, reiterated that the court is concerned with the first FIR.