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Posted at: Jan 22, 2018, 2:29 PM; last updated: Jan 22, 2018, 2:50 PM (IST)

Judge Loya death case: SC transfers to itself two PILs from Bombay HC

Judge Loya death case: SC transfers to itself two PILs from Bombay HC
Judge BH Loya. File photo

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 22

The Supreme Court on Monday transferred to itself two PILs pending in the Bombay High Court in connection with the Judge BH Loya death case.

A three-judge Bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra fixed February 2 as the date to take up the transferred petitions with two other PILs already pending before the top court.

The court witnessed a heated exchange between senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Harish Salve after the former alleged that the state was trying to protect BJP chief Amit Shah, who was an accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

At the time of his death, judge Loya was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

The CJI reacted angrily when senior advocate Indira Jaising said the Bench could not gag the press and ask them to refrain from reporting on the documents submitted by Maharashtra relating to the mysterious death.

“We have not said anything. How can you say that we are gagging the press? You must apologise unconditionally,” the CJI said.

Jaising immediately said, “Sorry”. Later, she welcomed the order passed by the Bench.

Salve and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi represented the Maharashtra government before the top court.

Dave objected to the fact that they had earlier represented Shah.

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The Bench said, “We are not the conscience keepers of the Bar. We leave it to the lawyers to decide whether they want to appear in a particular case or not.”

Dave said, “So far it’s a natural death. But we want an independent inquiry because it’s about the death of a judge.”

Justice DY Chandrachud, who was part of the Bench, said, “If you say it’s a natural death, then why do you cast aspersions on someone. Let’s find out what the truth is.”

The controversial matter that was cited by four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court as one of the reasons for going public against the CJI on January 12 was on Saturday shifted to the CJI’s Bench following recusal by a Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.

It was Justice Arun Mishra’s Bench which had on January 16 directed the Maharashtra government to share all documents relating to the death of CBI Special Judge Loya with the two petitioners. 

Loya had died of a cardiac arrest on December 1, 2014, in Nagpur where he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. He was handling the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which various police officers and BJP president Amit Shah were named. Shah was later exonerated in the case. 

At present, there are two PILs before the top court--one each filed by activist Tehseen Poonawala and journalist BR Lone--seeking an independent probe into Loya’s death.

On the last date, senior counsel Harish Salve, representing the Maharashtra government, had handed over to the court a sealed cover containing the documents, including Loya’s post-mortem report. 

On Monday, the petitioners’ counsel submitted that the documents submitted by the state government were incomplete as the entry register of the guesthouse and records of treatment given to judge Loya were missing.

The top court had earlier termed Loya’s mysterious death as “a serious matter”.

Loya’s death has been hitting headlines since November 2017 after media reports quoting his sister raised questions about the circumstances surrounding his death and its alleged link to the Sohrabuddin case. 

As many as 23 accused--including policemen--faced trial for their alleged involvement in the case.  Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsidas Prajapati were allegedly killed in a fake encounter in Gujarat in November 2005. The case was transferred to the CBI and the trial was shifted to Mumbai.

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