Would be breach of Interim Bail condition if Ashish Mishra found Engaged in Political Activities in UP: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday observed that it would be a breach of interim bail condition if Ashish Mishra — son of Union Minister of State for Home, Ajay Kumar Mishra and the main accused in 2021 Lakhimpur Kheri violence case — is found engaged in political activities in Uttar Pradesh as alleged by victim families.

During the hearing, a Bench presided over by Justice Surya Kant was apprised by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for families of the deceased, that Ashish Mishra has been participating in various political functions and was seen distributing tricycles in a video.

“Your lordship’s order granting bail had barred Ashish Mishra, the main accused, from entering Uttar Pradesh except for attending the trial proceedings. But, he has been going around, distributing tricycles and participating in various political functions. There are also posters which have been put up,” said Bhushan, adding that he will file an affidavit annexing the videos where Ashish Mishra is allegedly shown distributing bicycles.

At this, Justice Kant said, “Posters sometimes, others can also print. But, if he is physically attending a function, then it will definitely amount to a violation of the (interim bail) condition.”

Refuting the allegations made by the other side, senior advocate Siddhartha Dave, representing Ashish Mishra, said that his client enters the district a day prior when the matter is listed before the trial court and returns the very following day.

“I am not that foolish that I will participate after getting liberty from your lordships,” said Dave.

The apex court recalled that it had categorically asked Ashish Mishra to not participate in any public function or interact with the press while relaxing the bail condition to allow his stay in Delhi.

It asked Bhushan to place on record the affidavit regarding the participation of Ashish Mishra in political activities. Till the next date of listing, interim bail has been ordered to be extended.

Taking note of the status report received from the trial court where witnesses expressed unwillingness to depose due to various factors, the Supreme Court asked Additional Advocate General (AAG) Garima Prasad, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, to take necessary action for securing the attendance of witnesses during the trial.

The Supreme Court in January 2023 had imposed a slew of conditions while granting interim bail to Ashish Mishra.

It had ruled that Ashish Mishra would have to leave Uttar Pradesh within one week of his release; he cannot stay in UP or Delhi/NCR; he shall inform the court about his location; and any attempt by his family members or Mishra himself to influence witnesses would lead to cancellation of his bail.

The top court added that Mishra would have to surrender his passport; he would not enter UP except to attend the trial proceedings; and, the prosecution, SIT, Informant or any family member of the victims of the crime would be at liberty to promptly inform the apex court of any incident of misuse of the concession of the interim bail.

Later, it relaxed the bail condition of Ashish Mishra to stay in the national capital considering the fact that his mother was admitted to a hospital in Delhi and his daughter also required medical treatment.

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In October 2021, eight people were killed in Lakhimpur Kheri District’s Tikunia in violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.

According to the UP Police FIR, four farmers were mowed down by an SUV, in which Ashish Mishra was seated.

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