The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking review of its April 19 verdict that had held that Special CBI judge B H Loya had died of "natural causes" on December 1, 2014 and had rejected PILs seeking an SIT probe into the death, questioning their motive.
The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking review of its April 19 verdict that had held that Special CBI judge B H Loya had died of “natural causes” on December 1, 2014 and had rejected PILs seeking an SIT probe into the death, questioning their motive. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud did not find any merit in the review petition filed by Bombay Lawyers Association, one of the petitioners in the case.
“We have carefully gone through the review petition and the connected papers, but we see no reason to interfere with the order impugned. The review petition is, accordingly, dismissed,” the bench said. The apex court had rejected the PILs seeking probe into the death of Loya, ruling that he had died of “natural causes”, and held that the petitions were moved by political rivals to settle scores which was a serious attempt to scandalise the judiciary and obstruct the course of justice through a “frontal attack” on its independence.
Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, had died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. Sohrabuddin Sheikh, a suspected gangster, and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted and killed by a team of Gujarat and Rajasthan Police in November 2005.
The CBI filed a charge sheet against 38 persons for the alleged fake encounters. The trial court discharged 14 people, including BJP chief Amit Shah, in the case. The apex court had brought the curtains down on raging debate over Loya’s death, saying “the circumstances … which have been dealt with by this court in the judgment delivered today stands concluded”.
“We have come to the conclusion that there is absolutely no merit in the writ petitions. There is no reason for the court to doubt the clear and consistent statements of the four judicial officers. “The documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes. There is no ground for the court to hold that there was reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, had said.
It had said, “Business rivalries have to be resolved in a competitive market for goods and services. Political rivalries have to be resolved in the great hall of democracy when the electorate votes its representatives in and out of office.” The CJI was attacked by four fellow apex court judges led by Justice J Chelameswar in an unprecedented presser on January 12 over allocation of cases and the hearing of the Loya matter was one of the contentious issues.
The apex court had held that the petitions were misuse of public interest litigation, a serious matter of concern for the judicial process, and it would be a travesty of justice as the “resources of the legal system to be consumed by an avalanche of misdirected petitions purportedly filed in the public interest which, upon due scrutiny, are found to promote a personal, business or political agenda”. The bench had lent credence to the statements of four judges — Shrikant Kulkarni, S M Modak, Vijay C Barde and R R Rathi– who were with Loya on December 1, 2014 when he died at Nagpur.