Maharashtra says PILs on Loya death 'ill-founded and motivated'

Maharashtra says PILs on Loya death 'ill-founded and motivated'

The Maharashtra government on Friday maintained before the Supreme Court that the PILs seeking independent probe into the death of Mumbai's special judge B H Loya were "ill-founded and motivated".

Loya, then hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, died on December 1, 2014, in Nagpur where he had gone to attend a marriage ceremony. BJP President Amit Shah, who faced charges in the case, was subsequently exonerated.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, representing intervenor Admiral L Ramdas and others, contended before a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the case of death has so far not been ascertained as no proceedings were ordered under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code. She also questioned the decision to transfer the predecessor of Loya to the post of special judge, trying the encounter case.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Maharashtra government, countered her by asking how she could damn the decision of the administrative committee of the Bombay High Court on transfer of judge.

'Yellow journalism'

He pointed out that the judges who were with Loya at the time of his demise have already given statements that the death was natural but premature. He said the instant petitions were based on "yellow journalism".

"This has been going on for hours and hours and hours. If the statements of these judges (in a discreet inquiry after reports on death emerged in media) are to be believed, then this case has to end now. Either you say these judges are telling lies or you dismiss this case now," Rohatgi submitted before the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.

The state government counsel also objected to Jaising's raising of the issue of witnesses turning hostile in the encounter case. A counsel on behalf of the All India Lawyers Association also sought direction for probe into the matter. The court is to hear arguments on behalf of Maharashtra government on Monday. Senior advocates Dushyant Dave, V Giri and Pallav Sisodia had concluded their arguments on behalf of Bombay Lawyers Association and two PIL petitioners activist Tehseen Poonawalla and Maharashtra-based journalist B S Lone.

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