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SC emphasizes balancing of interests, between Right to life and protecting the society

Written By – Shianjany Pradhan

On Thursday, while hearing the bail plea for Ashish Mishra the son of the current union minister of State, in the case of Ashish Mishra @monu v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (also known as the Lakhimpur case) the supreme court reserved the verdict. The bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and JK Maheshwari said that incarceration cannot be for an indefinite period, as it cannot be expected that the trial will be over within 5 years, it can take more than that.

The Lakhimpur incident took place on October 3, 2021, where reportedly 8 people were killed, during the farmer’s protest against the farm laws, which now stand revoked. It is alleged that a vehicle, owned and driven by Ashish Mishra, the son of the union of home minister of state Ajay Mishra, was responsible for mowing down the protestors. 

On one hand, Senior counsel appearing for the complainants argued that, if the bail will be granted then a wrong image will be reflected in society and, the present case will never be able to meet the ends of justice. Though, on the other hand, Senior counsel, Mukul Rohtagi appearing on behalf of Ajay Mishra, sought in the court, a plea of alibi, and he should be granted bail. 

As per section 11 of the Indian evidence act, anyone who is suspected of a crime can seek the plea of alibi, by referring to the fact that he was not present at the spot where the crime took place. Hearing the arguments, the court stressed the principle of “balancing the interests” of both parties. Mr. Rohtagi emphasized that non-granting of bail can affect the right to life under article 21 of the Indian constitution, which says that every person has the right to live their life to their own terms and conditions, without being restricted in any way, owing to the conditions that they do not pose a threat to the society. This was also stated as a defense by senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi.

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