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Supreme Court to look into Loya case objectively

Ashish Tripathi, DH News Service, New Delhi, Jan 22 2018, 21:06 IST
BH Loya allegedly died of cardiac arrest while presiding over the Soharabudding Sheikh fake encounter case in 2014. PTI file photo.

BH Loya allegedly died of cardiac arrest while presiding over the Soharabudding Sheikh fake encounter case in 2014. PTI file photo.

The Supreme Court on Monday said the matter pertaining to Mumbai special judge B H Loya's death is serious one and has to be examined "objectively" and "dispassionately".

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, however, asked all the counsel to avoid casting aspersion on anyone, saying as of today, the documents showed that it appeared to be a case of natural death.

The court directed for transferring of two separate PILs pending before principal bench and Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court to the apex court.

The matter was examined by a new bench led by the CJI, amid high drama with senior advocate Dushyant Dave hurling a charge in the court that everybody wanted to save BJP president Amit Shah. The allocation of the case to a bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra had acted a trigger for four senior most judges to speak out against the CJI on January 12. Justice Mishra subsequently on January 16 withdrew himself from the case.

On Monday, the bench took up two PILs filed by Congress sympathiser Tehseen Poonawalla and Maharashtra-based journalist Bandhuraj Sambhaji Patil seeking independent probe into the death on December 1, 2014.

"We can't hear the case merely on the basis of news reports. We are looking into the circumstances leading to the death. Each of you are holder of your own conscience. You dispassionately decide if you want to appear or not. This is a serious matter where a member of judiciary has died. Please file whatever documents you have. We will see and examine. Let's look at all records. Let us examine the records objectively and dispasstionately," the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The court did not issue notice and put the matter for further consideration on February 2. It, however, restrained any other HC from hearing the case.

Senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra government, submitted that a discreet inquiry was conducted after news reports emerged on the death and it showed there was no foul play. The counsel furnished to the court a sealed envelop, containing records relating to the matter.

Senior advocate Dave, representing an intervenor, contended that Salve, Rohatgi, and senior advocate Pallav Sisodia, representing a PIL petitioner here, had earlier appeared for BJP president Shah, who was the sole beneficiary in the matter. Loya was then hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. Shah, along with others was an accused. But he was later discharged.

Dave said the father of the deceased judge and his sister had expressed serious doubt over the circumstances, leading to the death. During the hearing, Salve urged the court to restrain the lawyers from discussing the details of the case in media. This was strongly objected to by senior advocate Indira Jaising, saying it amounted to a gag order. The court, however, took exception to her quick inference, saying it was not going to pass any order.

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