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Loya case: Uncertainty over who will hear PIL that split Supreme Court

The Loya case is seen as the trigger for the top four SC judges to go public with their criticism of CJI Misra for allocating sensitive cases to junior judges. .

india Updated: Jan 20, 2018 09:08 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Loya case,Dipak Misra,Supreme Court crisis
A view of Supreme Court in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Uncertainty increased over who in the Supreme Court (SC) will hear the Loya case after the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra on Friday ordered that the matter be put up before “an appropriate bench as per roster”.

This bench will hear the two public interest litigations demanding an independent probe into the death of special CBI court judge BH Loya who died in 2014.

It isn’t clear who will be on the “appropriate bench”. The CJI’s directive comes three days after a bench of Justices Arun Misra and MM Shantagoudar hearing the case ordered its listing before an “appropriate bench,” triggering speculation that they would withdraw from hearing it.

The Loya case is seen as the trigger for the top four SC judges to go public with their criticism of CJI Misra for allocating sensitive cases to junior judges.

Judge Loya, who was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, died in Nagpur on December 1, 2014.

Current BJP President Amit Shah was named in the case, although, in late December the same year, the court discharged him.

Friday’s order by the CJI was issued after Tehseen Poonawala and Mumbai-based journalist BR Lone mentioned the matter before the CJI. Lone’s advocate Anita Shenoy said she went to the CJI’s court to apprise him about the last order in the case and seek a date for hearing.

“On January 16 Justice Arun Misra had said the matter should be listed before an appropriate bench after a week. It was, therefore, mentioned to the chief who said the case would be now be heard by the bench as per roster,” Shenoy explained. The court had asked Maharashtra government to provide copy of its report to the petitioners, saying they should know everything about the case.

According to the present system in the court, a PIL is usually heard by the CJI. “But he is always at a liberty to mark it to another bench of his choice,” an official from the SC registry said. Therefore, it is possible that the CJI might hear the PILs in Loya case.

In the SC, a roster system is followed to mark cases to benches. Each bench has two judges. The roster is notified by the SC registry after the CJI approves it. However, the roster is not made public and even lawyers are unaware of the same. When a “sensitive matter” or PIL is filed the SC registry brings it to the notice of the CJI who then takes a call on who will hear it. Justice Arun Misra’s January 16 order, fuelling apprehensions over his hearing the case again, came a day after he broke down at a morning tea meet where he expressed his anguish at being collateral damage in the fight between the four senior judges and the CJI because their allegations cast aspersions on his conduct.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 23:52 IST