The trial in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, in which Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son is an accused, could take around five years to complete, the judge who is hearing the case, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in a status report filed by the Uttar Pradesh government.
In a letter sent to the top court, the additional sessions judge said there are 208 prosecution witnesses, 171 documents and 27 forensic science laboratory (FSL) reports in the case.
“He (sessions judge) says in normal course, it may take five years,” said Justices Surya Kant and V Ramasubramanian.
The top court had last month asked the sessions court how much time “in the normal course” was it likely to take to conclude the trial, without compromising with the schedule of other pending or prioritised cases.
The Supreme Court is hearing a request for bail filed by Ashish Mishra in the case involving protesting farmers who were run over by his car in October 2021 in Lakhimpur Kheri.
During the hearing, the judges asked the lawyers appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government to confirm whether the four accused in a separate case lodged over the killing of three occupants of the SUV, which mowed down farmers in the incident, are still in custody.
The case will be heard again on January 19.
On October 3, 2021, eight people were killed in Tikunia in Lakhimpur Kheri district during violence that erupted when farmers were protesting against the then Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya’s visit to the area.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV, in which Ashish Mishra was seated, according to the Uttar Pradesh Police FIR.
Following the incident, the driver and two BJP workers were allegedly lynched by angry farmers. A journalist also died in the violence.
On December 6 last year, the trial court had framed charges against Ashish Mishra and 12 others for alleged offences of murder, criminal conspiracy and others in the case of mowing down of protesting farmers in October 2021 in Lakhimpur Kheri, paving the way for the start of the trial.
A total of 13 accused, including Ashish Mishra, have been charged for murder, rioting and unlawful assembly.