In the recent days, a section of the ‘Indian intelligentsia’ has started seeing a conspiracy in the death of CBI court judge BH Loya, who was presiding over the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case where BJP President Amit Shah was pegged as the main accused.
Judge Loya passed way in December 2014, but three years after the death, in November last year, a magazine named Caravan came out with a sensational story, which insinuated possible foul play behind the death, which was deemed as a natural death. Caravan’s story was later debunked to a large extent by an Indian Express article and an inconsistency, which the IE failed to address, was explored and debunked by us.
Things though refused to mellow down, and the conspiracy theories became so rife that the family of Judge Loya, in a press-conference had to come out and plead to the NGOs, lawyers and politicians to stop harassing them, as the death of Judge Loya, they believed, was natural.
This too didn’t stop the so-called ‘vultures’ and another conspiracy emerged that claimed that this press conference was organised by Amit Shah, and the family was making the statements under his influence. This theory too was debunked.
Things have kept rolling since then, and two writ petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court, which seek an independent probe into the Judge’s death. These petitions were filed by journalist Banduraj Sambhaji Lone and a Congress supporter Tehseen Poonawalla.
This matter came to hearing in front of a three judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar on Monday.
The proceedings were eventful to say the least, and some pretty interesting observations were made during the course of it.
In response to the technicalities of the surroundings of Judge Loya’s death like the ECG reports and the buildup to the fateful day, Justice Chandrachud directed both the sides to file all documents in their possession in a catalogued manner. The ‘sides’ here included senior lawyer Harish Salve, who appeared on behalf of the state of Maharashtra, and senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, Indira Jaisingh and Dushyant Dave.
Justice Chandrachud very interestingly remarked that they needed to see everything, and couldn’t base their analysis solely on articles which appeared in Caravan, Indian Express, The Wire or Scroll.
Further Dushyant Dave, who was appearing for the Bombay Lawyers’ Association, tried to get the Supreme Court to not allow Harish Salve’s participation in the matter, simply because he appeared for Amit Shah.
This too was shot down by Justicle Chandrachud who asked Dave to not cast aspersions or comment on such matters. Justice Chandrachud commented that it’s for the advocates to comment whether they should or should not appear in a matter.
Harish Salve had also sought for an order which sought that the documents of the matter be not shared beyond the concerned counsels, which interestingly drew a huge backlash from Indira Jaising. She called the request inappropriate and claimed that it amounted to a gag order. She stated that the Supreme Court had recently upheld freedom of expression with regards to the movie Padmaavat and hence the court should not pass such orders which restrict the same.
This drew a stern reaction from the Chief Justice who commented that, “We have not passed any order to that effect. Please expressly withdraw your statement. And please do not make such comments“.
The apex court though finally rejected Salve’s request.
The court has also directed that, similar writ petitions which are pending before the Bombay High Court, be transferred to it. It also instructed that Bombay High Court and other courts to not entertain any identical petitions.
The next hearing in the matter is on February 2.