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  Opinion   Edit  21 Apr 2018  Loya case needed robust investigation

Loya case needed robust investigation

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 21, 2018, 12:24 am IST
Updated : Apr 21, 2018, 12:25 am IST

The petitioners in the case, the Bombay Bar Association & others, had urged the instituting of a probe into the death of Judge Loya in November 2014.

Late special CBI court judge B.H. Loya
 Late special CBI court judge B.H. Loya

The verdict on Thursday of the three-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra in the deeply contentious case of the death of a Maharashtra district judge, Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who was presiding over a matter before the CBI court in Mumbai in which present BJP president Amit Shah was the prime accused, raises uncomfortable questions.

This is because the deliberative quality of the judicial output does not appear to be of an elevating nature. Also, the language of the court used against the petitioners, as well as eminent members of the Supreme Court bar, borders on the unseemly.

The bench has pretty much said that the petitioners have tried to “scandalise” the top court for political reasons and would ordinarily attract criminal contempt. This is regrettable in the context of a subject which has been under discussion across the country, as well as in the Supreme Court itself. This was apparent at the January 12 press conference of the four most senior judges of the apex court, which hinted at bench-fixing to hear the Loya matter.

The petitioners in the case, the Bombay Bar Association and others, had urged the instituting of a probe into the death of Judge Loya in November 2014. Clearly, they harboured suspicions of foul play, but they were not accusing anyone of illegality, leave alone murder. They were placing their faith in the system to have a transparent investigation.

The circumstances of the death — arising from Judge Loya’s work at the time of his death — were unusual. In the Sohrabuddin-Prajapati fake encounter case in which the present BJP president was the main accused, the Supreme Court had directed that in the CBI court the same judge would be kept on till the end.

This instruction was violated.

When Judge Loya, with a reputation for probity, was brought into the case next, it was alleged that he had been offered a Rs 100 crore bribe, and he apparently realised that some quarters were playing for very high stakes. After his sudden death in Nagpur, where he had gone along with four other judges for a wedding, the new judge discharged Mr Shah from the case straightaway. The CBI — the “caged parrot” — chose not to appeal.

The information in the public domain also raises a host of other questions, including on the cause of the judge’s death, the possibility of manipulating the post-mortem exercise, and others. Heavens would not have fallen if the Supreme Court had ordered an impartial probe. Rejecting the probe demand as motivated in a deeply sensitive case can lead to unsavoury inferences.

Surprisingly, in deciding this case, the bench relied mainly on the statement of the four judges — who were in Nagpur with Loya — before Maharashtra state intelligence, and noted that this had “a ring of truth”. This is a shocking stance in the absence of cross-examination.

Tags: chief justice dipak misra, amit shah, supreme court, b.h. loya