NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday led a delegation of 15 opposition MPs that met President Ram Nath Kovind to seek an independent investigation into the death of Judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was an accused.
The delegation presented a memorandum to the president signed by 114 lawmakers from 15 parties, including the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, NCP, DMK, RJD, AAP and the Left. The BSP was not part of the exercise. In the Supreme Court that is hearing appeals in the Loya case, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra opposed demands for an independent probe, terming them as “motivated” and based on “yellow journalism”.
Stepping up pressure on the BJP, 114 parliamentarians of 15 political parties came together to petition President Ram Nath Kovind that the death of Special CBI Judge B H Loya was suspicious and must be probed by an independent agency.
Judge Loya passed away in December 2014 at Nagpur, where he had gone to attend a wedding. He was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case in which then Gujarat home minister Amit Shah, now BJP chief, was named. Shah was discharged by another judge two weeks later.
Judge Loya’s death case came into the limelight recently after four senior Supreme Court judges questioned Chief Justice Dipak Misra’s style of functioning, indirectly referring to bypassing of procedures in the sensitive case which was marked to their junior. A bench headed by the CJI is now hearing the case afresh.
“Many political parties and parliamentarians expressed this feeling that the death of Judge Loya was suspicious. There are two more suspicious deaths related to the case. There is a sense of discomfort and we apprised the President about it,” Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said after the Opposition delegation met the President.
“A Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team would be appropriate to probe the case,” he said adding, “The President’s response was positive.”
Besides Judge Loya, the Congress has been raising the suspicious deaths of advocate Shrikant Khandalkar and former Judge Prakash Thombre, who helped Judge Loya deal with pressure. The Congress said that Khandalkar’ s body was found in the District Court, Nagpur, and he allegedly fell from the eighth floor of a building on November 29, 2015 and had been missing for two days.
Judge Thombre had received threats to his life and was also threatened with stoppage of his pension by Justice B R Gavai, the Congress alleged. Judge Thombre died in suspicious circumstances while travelling in a train from Nagpur to Bangalore on May 16, 2016 in Hyderabad and there is no FIR till date on the incident, the party said.
The 15 parties that were part of the delegation were the Congress, TMC, SP, NCP, DMK, RJD, CPI-M, CPI, AAP, IUML, KC(M), RSP, AIUDF, JD(S) and JMM.
“Not only the lawmakers, people in the country too share the same sentiment in the case,” D Raja of the CPI said.
The CPI-M had been considering moving an impeachment motion against the CJI in the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament, but the Congress managers said no decision in the sensitive matter should be taken in haste.
Rahul countered the BJP’s charge that the Congress was demanding a probe in the death of Judge Loya just to target Amit Shah, saying “the law should take its own course.”