Lakhimpur Kheri Case: Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain to oversee probe

The Supreme Court also announces reconstituted SIT team

SC Lakhimpur Kheri case
Feature Image Credits: Indian Legal

Uttar Pradesh, Nov. 17: The Supreme Court has reconstituted the Special Investigation Team handling the Lakhimpur Kheri case and appointed former Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor the probe.

Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain was the former High Court judge in Punjab and Haryana. According to the ANI, the Court has named three senior IPS officers as part of the reconstitued SIT team. They are SB Shirodkar, Deepinder Singh and Padmaja Chauhan.

In the previous hearing on Monday, the Court asked for the names of officers in the SIT team who were posted in the State but were not original residents. The Court will hear the case next after the chargesheet is filed and the overseeing judge receives a report.

Disappointing progress

This verdict comes on the heels of earlier verdicts accusing the previous Uttar Pradesh SIT team of opaqueness and inadequacy in handling the case. For instance, the Court was not satisfied with the way the SIT team handled collecting evidence from witnesses.

Justice Surya Kanth, who was part of the bench hearing the case, did not trust the government. “Somehow, we are not confident of state judicial committee overseeing,” he said. Only four witnesses were heard for the case. Mobile phones were not taken from all the accused as on Oct. 20.

Previous hearings chart disappointing progress

Last Straw

The Lakhimpur Kheri case has been hotly debated among political factions since one of the accused is the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Mishra. Reports have emerged saying that the rifle recovered from Ashish Mishra was fired, but it was not known whether it was fired on Oct. 3 or earlier. Eyewitness accounts, too, point to Mishra firing the rifle at the farmers. Ajay Mishra’s comments before the violence were not helpful either. It will only take “two minutes to discipline you fellows,” he said in a video. The BJP in Uttar Pradesh, already under fire for the farm laws, faces a harsher political climate before the upcoming elections.

Some say that Lakhmipur Kheri has the capacity to topple Modi like how the violence at Chauri Chaura toppled the British before independence. Lakhimpur Kheri is only the latest in a series of mishaps. Hathras and Sonbadhra, too, spotlighted state inefficiencies in handling crimes or going one step futher, attempt to actively skew the case.

Therefore, the Supreme Court’s final verdict would play a decisive role in setting the BJP’s fortunes for next year.

(With inputs from ANI)