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SC questions detailed examination of evidence, reserves order

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday raised questions over the Allahabad High Court verdict granting bail to Ashish Mishra, son of Union minister Ajay Mishra, in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, saying unnecessary details like post mortem report, nature of wounds should not have gone into when the trial was yet to commence.

Reserving the order on a plea of farmers seeking cancellation of bail of Ashish, a special bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli also took strong note of the fact that the state government did not file an appeal against the high court's order as suggested by the Apex Court-appointed SIT, saying, This is not a matter where you wait for years. How can the judge go into a postmortem report etc.

We are hearing a bail matter; we do not want to prolong. This way of going into merits and going into wounds etc. is unnecessary for the question of bail, the bench observed.

The bench took note of the submissions of senior advocate Dushyant Dave and Prashant Bhushan, appearing for farmers, that the high court did not consider the extensive chargesheet and rather relied upon the FIR where it was alleged that one person received bullet injuries.

The bail was granted after the high court took note of the facts including the post mortem report which did not indicate bullet injuries of the deceased.

We do not approve of this type of nonsense. Sorry for using this word...these things were irrelevant for considering the bail. See, he was hit by a bullet. He was hit by a car and he was hit by a tyre and scooter. what is this, said the CJI.

The bench said the trial has not started and evidence is still being collected.

Dave said that one of the witnesses had been threatened in March also and as per an FIR, he was beaten up saying that "ab BJP satta me hai dekh tera kya haal hoga (now BJP is in power, now you see what consequences you may face) ".

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the accused, said that the matter was listed for framing of charges and the chargesheet has been filed after the conclusion of the probe.

At the outset, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the state, said that the report of the SIT on the filing of the appeal against the grant of bail was shared with the authorities on Friday.

The stand of the state government remains the same and an affidavit has been filed saying extensive security has been provided to witnesses and all the witnesses have been contacted and they have said that they do not have any threat perception.

Jethmalani said it was a grave offence and the nature of the offence can be established in the trial only and moreover, the accused was not a flight risk and has no criminal record.

The SIT asked us to appeal since he is an influential person and he can tamper evidence but this did not impress us, the state government counsel said.

Dave extensively referred to the chargesheet and said that the impugned high court order granting bail suffers from the gross non-application of mind and needed to be set aside.

He alleged that the victims were not heard in the high court. The SIT has done a thorough investigation. Why was the high court judge in such an anxiety to conduct the investigation, Dave said.

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