Supreme Court transfers to itself two pleas over Judge Loya’s death case from Bombay HC
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also asked the parties to catalogue all documents relating to Justice BH Loya’s death which have not been filed so far, and submit them for its perusal on February 2, the next date of hearing.Updated: Jan 22, 2018 17:15 IST
The Supreme Court transferred to itself two petitions pending in the Bombay high court on Monday, asking for fair and independent probe into the Judge BH Loya death case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the parties to catalogue all documents relating to Loya’s death which have not been filed so far, and submit them for its perusal on February 2, the next date of hearing.
Judge Loya, who died in November 2014, was holding the trial into the staged shootout deaths of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and two others. The judge appointed thereafter had discharged BJP president Amit Shah in the case and no appeal was filed by the CBI.
There was a heated exchange between senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Harish Salve with Dave charging the Maharashtra government of protecting Shah. Dave said Salve had appeared for Shah in the fake encounter case and could not have appeared for the state.
Salve shot back at Dave for raising arguments, meant for another forum. He said Dave was no one to tell him who he should appear for. Salve said a discreet inquiry by the state’s senior official had concluded that there was no foul play in Judge Loya’s death. He said according to the earlier court order, he had provided a copy of the report and post-mortem documents to the two petitioners before the SC.
Justice DY Chandrachud, one of the bench members, told Dave that the bench got to know about the case through media reports. He urged him not to drag any names since it has not been established that Loya’s death was a murder.
“This is a serious case. Let’s all look at the documents and hear the case objectively and dispassionately. We are all keeper of our own conscience. We cannot tell a lawyer to appear and not to appear,” Justice Chandrachud said, responding to Dave’s argument that Salve should not appear in the matter.
The CJI reacted angrily when senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for civil society activists who want to intervene in the matter, said the bench could not gag the press and ask them to refrain from reporting on the documents submitted by Maharashtra relating to Loya’s death.
“We have not said anything. How can you say that we are gagging the press? You must apologise unconditionally,” the CJI said, prompting Jaising to apologise.
Dave, appearing for the Bombay Lawyers’ Association, which has filed a PIL in the high court, admitted that it was a “natural death”. “But we want an independent inquiry because it’s about the death of a judge.”
Judge Loya’s death was the triggering point for the top four Supreme Court judges to go public against the CJI on January 12, accusing him of giving sensitive cases to favourable benches. Later, the case was withdrawn from the bench led by Justice Arun Misra and the chief marked it to himself.