SC appoints retired HC judge to monitor probe in Lakhimpur Kheri case
New Delhi, November 17, 2021
The Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to monitor the Lakhimpur Kheri violence probe and to ensure fairness and independence in the investigation.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N. V. Ramana said: "We appoint Rakesh Kumar Jain (retired judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court)...to ensure absolute impartiality in the investigation of the case."
The top court also ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to include three senior IPS officers, including a female officer, Padmaja Chauhan, present IG of Uttar Pradesh, on the SIT, which it said would continue with the investigation, under the supervision of Justice Jain. The top court said it would list the matter after the charge sheet is filed in the case, and a detailed order will be uploaded on it.
On November 15, the Supreme Court had said it would also consider the names of some retired apex court judge or high court judge to monitor day-to-day investigation in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence incident.
The top court also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to upgrade its task force investigating the matter with some high-ranking officials.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that the top court can appoint a retired judge to monitor the SIT probe. The top court said, "Now, we have a lot of freedom for a retired SC or HC judge. Let us see..." The bench had noted that it will find out a judge who is willing to take up the assignment.
During the hearing, the top court emphasized that the UP government should upgrade the task force investigating the matter. It said the officers must be high-ranking officers. Currently there are local Lakhimpur Kheri, sub-inspector level and DSP level officers on the task force.
The bench told Salve that it needs one more day to finalize the name of the judge. "We are considering Rakesh Kumar Jain (former Punjab and Haryana HC judge) or others. We have to consult them," said the bench.
Salve submitted, "Judge can be appointed from any other state." Earlier, the top court had said it wanted to appoint a judge outside of Uttar Pradesh.
Concluding the hearing, the top court asked the UP government to look into grievances of victim's families, who have not been paid compensation. Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad submitted that the state would take necessary steps.
The violence occurred on October 3, resulting in the killing of eight persons, including four farmers who were allegedly mowed down by the vehicles in the convoy of Ashish Misra, the son of Union Minister and BJP MP Ajay Kumar Misra.