Days after top four judges of the Supreme Court — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – convened an unprecedented press conference to complain about “selective” case allocation by CJI Dipak Misra and passing of certain judicial order. The Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra today transferred Judge Loya’s case to a new bench, headed by himself. The case will now be heard by a three bench judge of the apex court. Earlier, the case was assigned for Justice Arun Mishra’s bench. The top court has listed the case for hearing on January 22. The new bench will now include CJI, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Juctice DY Chandrachud. Misra had earlier assured a Bar Council of India delegation that the crisis in the Supreme Court resulting from a virtual revolt against him by four colleagues will be sorted out soon.
Notably, the son of special CBI judge B H Loya had said in Mumbai that his father died of natural causes and not in suspicious circumstances. Anuj Loya, 21, had said he did not have any doubts about the way his father died three years ago. “I had an emotional turmoil, hence I had suspicions about his death. But now we don’t have any doubts about the way he died,” the son of the late judge had said. “Earlier my grandfather and aunt had some doubts about his death, which they shared. But now neither of them has any doubts,” Anuj had said. With tears in his eyes, he also urged NGOs and politicians to stop “harassing” his family. “We faced some pressure from politicians and NGOs. We don’t want to name anyone, but please excuse my family from continuously asking about my father’s death,” he had said.
Loya’s death, while he was hearing the politically sensitive Shohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, is the subject of a PIL in the Supreme Court that was one of the triggers for the revolt against Misra.
On Friday, The Supreme Court termed as a “serious matter” the issue of alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya and sought a response from Maharashtra government on pleas seeking an independent probe into the matter. The top court said, “This matter requires bi-party hearing rather than exparte.”
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar asked Maharashtra Government counsel Nishant R Katneshwarkar to file a reply by January 15. At the outset, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Bombay lawyers association, said the high court is seized of the matter and the apex court should not hear the pleas. “The Bombay High Court is seized of the matter and in my opinion, the Supreme Court should not hear this matter. If the court goes ahead with the hearing, it may have implications before the high court,” Dave had said.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for one of the petitioners Maharashtra-based journalist B R Lone, said that she has also instructions from Bombay lawyers association that this matter should not be heard by the top court.