Three judges check in to a guest house room with a bed for two, could have been a start of a good joke, but its a start of an intriguing case of the death of special CBI Judge BH Loya, which to say the least, warranted a fair investigation.
Records show that special CBI judge Brijmohan Harikishan Loya died of a heart attack in Nagpur, Maharashtra, on December 1, 2014. The petitioners, however, had moved the Supreme Court alleging he died under “mysterious” circumstances.
In the last five months, The Caravan has published nearly two dozen reports, many of which have pointed to inconsistencies in the official record of Loya’s death. This includes the conclusions made by the doctors involved in the case, statements from the judge’s family that he had been under pressure to deliver a “favorable judgment” in the Sohrabuddin case and threats to those asking questions about the Loya case.
In a major order, the Supreme Court on Thursday declined the petition seeking SIT probe in CBI Judge B.H. Loya death case. In its order, the apex court held that no “CBI probe will be conducted in Loya case as there isn’t any sufficient evidence”
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, pronounced its verdict after hearing a clutch of petitions.
There is no reason to doubt statements of four judges on circumstances leading to the death of Loya and the documents placed on record and their scrutiny establishes that Loya’s death was due to natural cause, the SC bench said.
The court said there was no reason to disbelieve the judicial officers who were present with Loya at the time of his death. It accused the petitioners of trying to “malign the judiciary” and called the petitions “scandalous and amount to criminal contempt”.
The SC while dismissing the petition seeking independent Investigation into Judge Loya’s death, said that;
“Judges can’t lie. Their word must be treated to be the gospel truth. Anyone who questions judges is guilty of contempt”!
THE OTHER FOUR JUDGES
On the 12th of April, four senior judges, Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan Lokur held an extraordinary conference sharing their concern and warning the nation of the impending demise of democracy.
“About a couple of months, four of us gave a signed letter to CJI and we wanted a particular thing to be done. The thing was done but it raised further questions about integrity of the institution,” said the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court.
“We owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution.” (12th February Press Conference)
“The four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country,” he said.
Justice Chelameswar confirmed the difference of opinion is about the assignment of the case concerning Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge who was hearing the matter of the allegedly staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
In 2014, Loya presided over the special court set up by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in Mumbai to decide whether Amit Shah, then Home Minister of Gujarat and now the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was involved in Sohrabuddin’s death,
Loya, however, was transferred in June 2015, shortly after he had admonished Shah for failing to appear in court. Six months on, Loya died and his death was reported as a heart attack.
“We have seen a lot of wise men but we don’t want wise men to tell us later after 20 years that the four of us have sold our souls. We construe this as a responsibility to the nation and we have done it,” said Justice Chelameswar.
The BJP alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was the “invisible hand” behind the petitions and demanded an apology from him and Sonia Gandhi for defaming its top leadership.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad welcomed the verdict and alleged that the case was not activated to serve the public interest but to serve the interests of Congress and damage the interests of BJP and its chief Amit Shah in particular.
“The court said political battles must be fought on political grounds. It clearly means that the case was fought as a political battle against our party President Amit Shah. I urge Rahul Gandhi not to fight political battles through corridors of court,” said Prasad.
The SC while dismissing the petition seeking independent Investigation into Judge Loya's death, said that "Judges can't lie. Their word must be treated to be the gospel truth. Anyone who questions judges is guilty of contempt"! Judges in their own cause? https://t.co/fIfk7NmcoS
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) April 19, 2018
Congress President Rahul Gandhi targeted BJP chief Amit Shah, saying “the truth has its own way of catching up with people like him”.
In the wake of the SC ruling, Surjewala stressed that the Congress was not among the petitioners seeking a probe into the judge’s death and recalled that the party had instead approached the “people’s court” and approached President Ram Nath Kovind along with 14 other opposition parties.
“In this background, the BJP’s attempt to make false capital out of the Supreme Court judgment must be condemned with strongest possible words,” he added.
Criticising the SC verdict, the Congress spokesperson raised 10 questions relating to the case and noted that issue of criminality can be decided only through a probe.
HOW DID RAVI SHANKAR SINGH GET THE VERDICT?
“How does the Law Min, Ravi Shankar Prasad have a copy of Supreme Court judgment in Judge Loya case, when neither the public nor the press or advocates have got a copy yet? And the Supreme Court web site is hacked,” asked Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala.
“So much for transparency & fairness!,” he added.
No one has the judgement copy. The website of SC is down . I have the 1st right to my judgement on my petition . I have not got a copy how does @rsprasad ji have it ? I will be filing a complaint against him at the SC . If I am arrested so be it ! @Deepali_Dwivedi @AshimaMandla
— Tehseen Poonawalla (@tehseenp) April 19, 2018
SUPREME COURT WEBSITE HACKED
Yes, while the hearing of the Aadhaar case was on and hours after CJI Dipak Misra and Justice Chandrachud had given the verdict behind Justice Loya case, reports started coming in ofthe Supreme Court website being hacked purportedly by Brazilian hackers, who along with a message left a green leaf , maybe as a sign for someone to reflect and contemplate.
The HighTech Brazil HackTeam, which compromised hundreds of websites including some Indian websites in 2013, apparently involved in Web attack.