Directed by the apex court to specify the time schedule for concluding the trial while hearing bail plea of main accused Ashish Mishrathe trial judge filed a status report in a sealed envelope. A bench of Justices Surya Kant and V Ramasubramanian, after perusing the report, said the judge says it will take five years for the trial to conclude. “The report says there are 208 witnesses, 171 documents and 27 FSL reports,” the bench said.
The top court had sought a report as it was contended by the accused that he should be granted bail as the trial would go on for years and he had already spent more than a year in custody. Observing that competing interests of the accused, victims and society have to be balanced while deciding bail plea, the SC had asked the trial judge to give a tentative timeline for concluding the hearing.
Family members of victims, however, strongly opposed the bail plea and said that no exception should be made in this case. They contended that Mishra was accused of a very serious offence of killing five farmers and the witnesses were being threatened despite having been given protection.
On December 6, the trial court had framed charges against Ashish Mishra and 12 others for murder, criminal conspiracy and related offences in the case of mowing down 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 under IPC sections 147 and 148 related to rioting, 149 (unlawful assembly), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 427 (mischief) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), and Section 177 of the Motor Vehicle Act.