The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government over delay in filing status report in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case.
According to a report by Live Law, "We think you are dragging your feet. You please dispel this," the Supreme Court told the Uttar Pradesh government while hearing the Lakhimpur Kheri matter, and asked it to record statements of remaining witnesses in the case before a judicial magistrate.
The apex court, which was hearing a matter pertaining to the October 3 violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in which eight persons including four farmers were killed during a farmers' protest, was told by the state government that statements of four out of the 44 witnesses have been recorded by the judicial magistrate.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana perused the status report filed by the state government in the matter in a sealed cover.
Chief Justice N V Ramana said: "Waited till late last night for any filing, we received it now."
Senior lawyer Harish Salve, representing the UP government, 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 said.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, was told by the state that the process of recording of statements of witnesses before judicial magistrate is going on.
The top court has posted the matter for hearing on October 26.
Ten people, including Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra, have been arrested so far in connection with the case.
The top court is hearing the matter after two lawyers had written a letter to the CJI seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the incident.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhimpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre's three new farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3.
Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of three laws -- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 since last November.
The apex court had stayed the implementation of these laws in January. Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh While hearing the matter on October 8, the apex court had questioned the Uttar Pradesh government over the non-arrest of all the accused and had directed preservation of evidence.
The bench had said, "the law must take its course against all accused" and "the government has to take all remedial steps in this regard to inspire confidence" in the investigation of "brutal murder of eight persons". The counsel appearing for the state government had assured the top court on October 8 that all appropriate action would be taken in the case.
(With inputs from PTI)