Supreme Court ruling in judge Loya death case: Verdict embarrasses Congress, activists who suspected foul play

A number of activists, 'liberals' and the Congress party have attempted to create political capital out of the Supreme Court verdict in the judge BH Loya death case. Interestingly, they did so even though the apex court dismissed pleas seeking a probe into the matter, and severely criticised the petitioners.

The Congress virtually seconded activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s statement terming the verdict a “black day in the history of the Supreme Court.” It called the Supreme Court judgment a 'sad day in India's history'. By doing so, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala not only questioned the judgment in the judge Loya case, but also pointed fingers at the very institution of the Supreme Court of India.

The Congress appears to have used such terms to criticise the Supreme Court's judgment merely because the verdict was not one of its choice — one which could have helped them fight a political battle against the BJP and its president Amit Shah. The ruling has caused embarrassment to the Congress and its supreme leader Rahul Gandhi. The Congress' reaction raises the question as to whether such a party — one which ruled India for 60 years after independence — should behave in this manner.

Criticism of a judgment from the higher judiciary is an acceptable practice. However, in this case, no one was spared — including judges from the lower courts, High Court and the Supreme Court. It appears that the Congress is on the same page on this matter as its numerous activist-lawyer friends, a section of NGOs, and so-called left-liberals and democrats.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Surjewala used high-sounding language to create an impression that the Congress was fighting for a cause that concerned the people at large. He said, "The verdict of the honourable Supreme Court has left many questions unanswered for all those seeking a fair investigation and justice in the death of judge Loya. On behalf of the people of India, we would like to place on record the following valid apprehensions and questions surrounding judge Loya's death. The people of India are looking for answers."

File image of judge BH Loya. Image courtesy: Facebook

File image of judge BH Loya. Image courtesy: Facebook

Surjewala, while making this statement, may have paraphrased a statement often used by a popular prime time anchor. However, even as he claimed to make the statement on behalf of the people of India, he appeared unmindful of the fact that the people of India have summarily rejected the Congress and its policies in election after election — whether at the national or state level.

It is not as if the questions that Surjewala asked, making insinuations against Amit Shah, were not dealt with by lawyers who fought the case. In fact, allegations were earlier made in a far more direct manner. The people who suspected foul play in judge Loya's death levelled allegations against judges from all three tiers of the judiciary. This was pointed out by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in his press conference in New Delhi.

The aggression shown by the Congress party, some activists and lawyers in this case would make one wonder if they were trying to bully the Supreme Court judges hearing the case. Now, that the judgment has gone against them, they are trying to shame the judicial process. It needs to kept in mind that for ordinary people, the judiciary is often the last hope, one on the basis of which they keep their faith in the system

There is no denying that the Congress and some activist-lawyers, by demanding a fair probe into judge Loya death, were trying to put Amit Shah in the dock, and to keep the the needle of suspicion pointed at him.

It is rare for the Supreme Court to blast petitioners in a case in the way that it did on Thursday in the judge Loya case. Consider what the three-judge bench, comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar, said in its judgment:

“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 a reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry.”

“Repeatedly, counsel for the petitioners and intervenors have attempted to inform the court that they have no personal agenda and that they have instituted these proceedings to protect judicial independence. An aura of good faith has been sought to be created by submitting that the true purpose of seeking an inquiry into the circumstances relating to the death of judge Loya is to protect the district judiciary. But as the submissions have evolved, it has become clear that the petition is a veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary and to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions. Judicial review is a potent weapon to preserve the rule of law. However, here, we have been confronted with a spate of scurrilous allegations. Absent any tittle of proof that they are conspirators in a murder, the court must stand by the statements of the judicial officers. The judges of the district judiciary are vulnerable to wanton attacks on their independence. This court would be failing in its duty if it were not to stand by them”.

The court couldn’t have been more direct in its judgment. It said that business rivalries have to be resolved in the market, and political rivalries in the hall of democracy.

One would have expected the petitioners in the case to be on the defensive on Thursday, considering the strong remarks of the Supreme Court against them. However, ironically, they have chosen to react in such a way as to cast suspicions on the judgment.

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Updated Date: Apr 20, 2018 07:40:26 IST

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