Judge BH Loya died a natural death, the Supreme Court of India observed and dismissed all writ petitions filed demanding an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of the special CBI judge. Loya, who died in December 2014, was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar said there was no reason to doubt the statements of the four judges, Shrikant Kulkarni, Shriram Modak, R Rathi and Vijay Kumar Barde, on circumstances leading to Loya's death. The apex court also added that the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were without any truth and an attempt was made to scandalise judiciary by levelling serious allegations against judicial officers and judges of the Bombay High Court.
"Serious attacks were made again at the judges of Bombay High Court. Even the judges of this court (Supreme Court) were not spared, which is a serious concern," observed the Supreme Court.
Taking names of senior counsels Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaisingh, Prashant Bhushan and juniors of Senior Advocate V Giri, the apex court expressed its anguish and criticised the senior advocates and activist lawyers for making insinuations against judges including that of the Supreme Court.
Among other observations made by Supreme Court, the attempt of the petitioners was to malign judiciary. "Frivolous and motivated petitions should be discouraged. Business rivalries and political rivalries should be settled outside," Live Law quoted the bench as saying.
"Documents placed on record and their scrutiny establishes that Loya's death was due to natural cause. Frivolous and motivated litigation has been filed to settle political rivalry. It becomes clear that with these petitions real attempt and frontal attack was made on independence of judiciary," the Supreme Court noted. During the proceedings, the top court said that it had thought of initiating contempt proceedings against petitioners but "decided not to go ahead with it."
The Supreme Court also observed that during arguments, counsel for petitioners "forgot to maintain institutional civility towards judges and made wild allegations", reported Live Law.
Loya had allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on 1 December, 2014, when he was attending the wedding of a colleague's daughter. However, a clutch of petitions were filed before the apex court, calling for an inquiry into Loya's death. The court had said it would order an investigation if there was ground for suspicion.
The issue of Loya's death came under spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister had fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding it and its link to the Sohrabuddin case. But Loya's son, on 14 January this year, said in Mumbai that his father had died of natural causes.
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 PC Pande, Additional Director General of Police Geeta Johri and Gujarat police officers Abhay Chudasama and NK Amin have already been discharged.
Several accused, including police personnel, are currently facing trial for their involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, 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 BS Lone, was filed in the top court seeking an independent probe into Loya's death in 2014.
Four senior-most apex court judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — at their 12 January press conference had questioned the manner in which sensitive cases were being allocated and Loya's case was one of them.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Apr 19, 2018 20:59:52 IST