Supreme Court upholds Ajay Mishra's acquittal in Lakhimpur Kheri murder case [10.1.2024]

The Supreme Court has upheld an order of the Allahabad High Court that dismissed an appeal filed by the Uttar Pradesh government in 2004 against Union minister Ajay Mishra's acquittal in a murder case.

The case pertains to the killing of Prabhat Gupta in Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.

A top court bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal said it was not inclined to interfere with the concurrent findings of facts recorded by the Lucknow bench of the high court and the trial court.

"Having heard the senior counsel, Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, at length and after carefully perusing the material placed on record, we are not inclined to interfere with the concurrent findings of facts recorded by the two courts. Hence, the special leave petitions are dismissed," the bench said in its order passed on January 8.

The trial court had acquitted Mishra in the case in 2004, after which the state government challenged the decision in the high court.

The top court was hearing an appeal filed by petitioner Rajeev Gupta, challenging the May 2023 high court order that had said there was no error in the trial court's judgment.

Earlier, the Union minister had moved the apex court seeking a transfer of the appeal from the Lucknow bench of the high court to the principal bench at Prayagraj, which was declined.

Mishra and others were named in the FIR lodged in Lakhimpur in connection with the killing of 24-year-old Gupta, who was shot dead in the Tikunia area of the district.

The additional sessions judge in Lakhimpur Kheri acquitted Mishra and others in the case in 2004 for want of adequate evidence.

Aggrieved by the acquittals, the state government had preferred an appeal, while the deceased's family had filed a separate revision petition challenging the judgment.

10 Jan 2024