SC dismisses PIL demanding SIT probe into Judge Loya's death

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: April 19, 2018
The Supreme Court has dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding a Special Investigation Team (SIT) enquiry into the death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. Judge Loya who was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court, died in December 2014 under allegedly mysterious circumstances. He has earlier turned down an alleged bribe of Rs 100 crores to pass a judgment in favour of BJP Chief Amit Shah in the case.

Justice Loya

A three judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar that heard the PIL, dismissed it saying, “There is no reason to disbelieve the sequence of events leading to the death as narrated by the four judicial officers namely Shrikant Kulkarni, Shriram Modak, R. Rathi and Vijay Kumar Barde and the assertions of Bombay High Court Justices Bhushan Gawai and Sunil Shukre.”

It further admonished the petitioner for attempting to malign the judiciary. Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaising and V. Giri had appeared on behalf of the Bombay Lawyers’ Association, Former chief of the navy Admiral L. Ramdas, an intervenor, and Activist Tehseen Poonawalla respectively.

Judge Loya was presiding over the case which involved the 2005 ‘encounter’ killing of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi. Within a month of Judge Loya’s death, M.B. Gosavi the judge who replaced him ruled that Amit Shah had no case to answer and discharged him from the case saying, “I found substance in the main contention made by the applicant [Mr. Shah] that he was involved in the case by the CBI for political reasons.” Interestingly, Judge Loya had himself taken over the case when the previous judge J.T Utpat suddenly moved out of the trial. Utpat had previously admonished Shah for his failure to appear before the court.

Loya had gone to Nagpur to attend the wedding of the daughter of another judge on November 30, 2014. On the morning of December 1, Loya’s family received a call saying Loya had died following a cardiac arrest. Caravan magazine published interviews with Judge Loya’s family members where they raised several questions about the manner in which his death was handled and that they feared that he may have fallen prey to foul play.

One of the suspicious aspects was that the family had received the call about his death at about 5am, yet the time of death recorded was 6:30am. Another curious aspect was how the hospital had pronounced that Loya died of natural causes, yet an autopsy was conducted. No panchnama was filed, neither was a medico-legal case registered as it required by law. Also the signature on the post mortem belongs to a ‘paternal cousin’, except no such person exists. Moreover, blood was found on Loya’s clothes which is curious because a heart attack does not cause bleeding.

Loya had allegedly complained of chest pains following which he was taken by autorickshaw to Dande Hospital where he was administered some medication. Later he was shifted to Meditrina Hospital as the ECG machine at Dande Hospital was not functioning. But he was declared ‘brought dead’ at Meditrina. Both hospitals are privately owned.

On January 12, 2018, in an unprecedented move, four sitting judges of the Supreme Court came out and addressed a press conference alleging nepotism in the apex court. They alleged that the Chief Justice was assigning important and controversial cases only to a select few judges. They feared this cherry picking could have an impact on the judgment in these high profile cases, including the case pertaining to Judge Loya’s death.