NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said it will examine the circumstances surrounding the death of CBI judge B H Loya in December 2014 and termed the issue as ‘serious’. The court said as of now Judge Loya’s death is “a natural death” unless proved otherwise. Loya was the CBI judge hearing the alleged staged shootout deaths of criminal and extortionist Sohrabuddin Sheikh and two others when he died. The judge appointed thereafter had discharged BJP president Amit Shah in the case and no appeal was filed by the CBI.
After a high-voltage hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said it will take a call on ordering a further investigation into the matter after looking at the facts and records objectively.
The apex court also ordered transferring of two similar petitions pending in the Bombay High Court to itself and restrained all high courts from entertaining similar pleas until the top court decides one way or the other.
The court slated the hearing for February 2 and directed all parties to submit relevant documents available with them, including ones accessed through RTI, before it in sealed covers. “We will have to look at the matter with a sense of objectivity,” observed the bench.
The order was passed after senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra government submitted a confidential inquiry report in the court. Salve told the bench that after the publication of media reports, a detailed inquiry was held to examine the circumstances in which Loya had died and a detailed report was submitted to the Bombay HC chief justice. He showed the bench the statements of four judicial officers who accompanied Loya to the hospital after he complained of chest pain and how they denied any foul play in their statements.Judge Loya’s death was one of the reasons for the top four SC judges to go public against the CJI on January 12.
The SC on Monday slated the hearing of CBI judge B H Loya’s death case for February 2 after senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, submitted in court a confidential report on his mysterious death in 2014.
Salve showed the bench the statements of four judicial officers who accompanied Justice Loya to the hospital after he complained of chest pain and how they denied any foul play in their statements.
On this, senior advocate Dushyant Dave sought to intervene on behalf of a group of lawyers from Mumbai and alleged that an attempt was being made to conceal the facts and highlighted that Justice Loya was trying the politically sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter killing case when he was found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Dave claimed that Salve had once appeared for BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case and so he should not appear for the State government now. Salve responded that he didn’t need Dave’s advice on propriety. “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 retract her statement and tender an apology.
The SC took offence over senior advocate Indira Jaising inferring a possible future gag on the media in the case.
“You should withdraw the statement and apologise,” CJI said, after which Jaising tendered an unconditional apology
In a major spat between senior counsel Dushyant Dave and Harish Salve, both traded sharp barbs on Salve appearing for Maharashtra in the case.
Dave alleges Salve earlier appeared for Amit Shah, and it is a serious case of conflict of interest; Salve retorts some people like to make statements