N order to ensure transparency, fairness, and absolute impartiality of the investigation, the Supreme Court Wednesday appointed former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Rakesh Kumar Jain to monitor and supervise the ongoing investigation into the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case in which eight persons, including four farmers who were part of a protest, were killed. Ashish Mishra, the son of the Union Minister of State for Home, Ajay Kumar Mishra, is the prime accused in the matter.
Justice Jain was appointed as judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2007 and retired last year. He hails from a family of lawyers in Hisar. His father, Gulab Singh Jain, was an eminent income tax advocate and an Indian National Congress Member of the Legislative Assembly from Hisar between 1972-77.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli passed the order to this effect after it disapproved of the manner in which the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Uttar Pradesh Government was investigating the matter.
The top court also re-constituted the SIT by inducting IPS officer SB Shiradkar as head of the SIT and Padmaja Chauhan and Dr. Preetinder Singh, IPSs, as its members. These officers do not hail from Uttar Pradesh though are allocated to U.P. Cadre.
The Court was of the view that the present SIT predominantly was comprised of middle-level/subordinate level police officers posted in district Lakhimpur Kheri.
“It appears to us that in spite of their perceived commitment and sincerity in carrying out the investigation, there may still be a lurking suspicion in respect of the fairness and independence of such an investigation”, it said.
The Court said the matter would now be listed after the charge-sheet is filed by the SIT on the basis of a status report to be filed by Justice Jain.