Dismissing a batch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge Brijgopal Harikishan Loya, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the petitions were serious attempts to scandalise and obstruct the course of justice.
Dismissing a batch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge Brijgopal Harikishan Loya, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the petitions were serious attempts to scandalise and obstruct the course of justice. Judge Loya, who was hearing the alleged Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, died of a cardiac arrest on December 1, 2014, in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. BJP chief Amit Shah, among others, was named in the Sohrabuddin case and later discharged.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said there was no reason to doubt statements of four judges, who accompanied Judge Loya to Nagpur, on circumstances leading to the death of Loya and that documents placed on record and their scrutiny establishes that the death was due to natural cause. “ There is no ground for the court to hold that there was a reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry,” it said.
Stating that frivolous and motivated litigations have been filed to settle political rivalry, Justice Chandrachud, writing for the Bench, said that the petitioners have launched a veiled attempt to malign the judiciary and the credibility of judicial institutions has been questioned. “PIL jurisdiction is being brazenly used by those who have an agenda to settle scores. The true face of the petition is seldom unravelled. It’s a serious concern as frivolous PILs detract court’s time from hearing genuine petitions of personal liberty,” the judges said.
Justice Chandrachud also criticised attempts by senior advocates and activist lawyers Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising and advocate Prashant Bhushan to make insinuations against judges including that of the apex court. He condemned the petitioners for referring to cases not related to the Judge Loya case. “Dave has gone to the extent of insinuating that one individual is controlling the entire judiciary in Maharashtra and elsewhere…” it noted in its judgment.
While taking serious note of Bhushan’s plea that two judges Khanwilkar and Chandrachud should recuse themselves from hearing the matter as they come from Maharashtra and must be knowing all judges of the Bombay High Court dealing with the case, it said: “…Bhushan has adopted a dual mantle, assuming the character of a counsel for the intervenor as well as an individual personally interested on behalf of the intervening organisation of which he is a member. He has gone to the length of personally collecting evidence to somehow bolster the case.
The manner in which the opinion of Dr Kaul was obtained on the basis of a laconic questionnaire leaves much to be desired and is a singular reflection on the lack of objectivity which is to be expected from counsel appearing before this court. This has bordered on an attempt to misrepresent the facts and mislead the court.”
The issue of Judge Loya’s death came under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoted his sister as raising suspicion about the circumstances surrounding it and linking it to the Sohrabuddin case. But Loya’s son in January this year said his father died of natural causes.
The judgement came on a batch of petitions, including one by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla and another by a Maharashtra-based journalist, seeking a probe into Loya’s death. These also include the two pleas that the apex court transferred to itself including the one brought by the Bombay Lawyers’ Association (BLA).