The Supreme Court today dismissed pleas seeking an independent probe into the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, ruling that the judge died of natural causes and the petitions were a serious attempt to scandalise and obstruct the course of justice.
The Supreme Court today dismissed pleas seeking an independent probe into the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, ruling that the judge died of natural causes and the petitions were a serious attempt to scandalise and obstruct the course of justice. The apex court also held that all litigations concerning circumstances of death of judge Loya is concluded with this judgement.
The top court dubbed the PILs into the death of judge Loya who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, as frivolous and motivated litigations to settle political scores and rivalry were behind the “facade of the PIL” to malign the dignity of judicial officers and Bombay High Court judges.
Loya had died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.
The top court said the judicial process will be reduced to a “charade” if the courts are burdened with such cases with extraneous reasons.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said there was no reason to doubt the statements of four judges on the circumstances leading to Loya’s death and the documents placed on record and their scrutiny established that the death was due to natural cause.
The top court, which was critical of the petitioners and their lawyers for casting insinuations against the judicial officers and judges, said an attempt was made to cause prejudice against them and was a “vituperative assault on the judiciary.”
It said that with these petitions it becomes clear that “a real attempt and frontal attack” was made on the independence of judiciary and the present case was a manifestation to carry forward a personal agenda.
The petitioners had launched a veiled attempt to malign the judiciary and the credibility of judicial institutions was questioned, the three-judge bench said and criticised the attempts by senior advocates and activist lawyers Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan to make insinuations against judges, including that of the apex court.
“Business rivalries have to be resolved in the market and political rivalries in the grand hall of democracy. It is the court’s duty to protect the law,” Justice Chandrachud, pronouncing the verdict for the bench, said.
It also took serious note of Bhushan’s plea that two of its judges, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, should recuse themselves from hearing the matter as they came from Maharashtra and must be knowing all judges of the Bombay High Court concerned with case.
The apex court said during arguments, counsel for petitioners forgot to maintain institutional civility towards judges and made wild allegations. The top court said it thought of initiating contempt proceedings against petitioners but decided not to go ahead with it.
While relying on the statements and accounts of the four judges — Shrikant Kulkarni and S M Modak, V C Barde and Roopesh Rathi — relating to the death of the judge Loya, the bench said, “there is no reason for this court to doubt the veracity of their statements.”
It said the statements of four judges were “credible, consistent and truthful” and there was no reason to disbelieve it.
Loya and the four judges had travelled to Nagpur for the wedding and stayed at Ravi Bhawan, a government-run VIP guest house, where he suffered the cardiac arrest.
The issue of Loya’s death had come under spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister had fuelled suspicion about circumstances surrounding it and its link to the Sohrabuddin case.
However, Loya’s son had on January 14 said in Mumbai that his father had died of natural causes.
Four senior-most apex court judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — at their January 12 press conference had questioned the manner in which sensitive cases were being allocated and Loya’s case was one of them.
In the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, BJP President Amit Shah along with Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, Rajasthan-based businessman Vimal Patni, former Gujarat police chief P C Pande, Additional Director General of Police Geeta Johri and Gujarat police officers Abhay Chudasama and N K Amin have already been discharged.
Several accused, including police personnel, are currently facing trial for their involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat in November 2005. The case was later transferred to CBI and the trial shifted to Mumbai.
A batch of pleas, including those filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala and Maharashtra-based B S Lone, was filed in the top court seeking an independent probe into Loya’s death in 2014.