On 2nd May 2018, Business Standard ran a news report with the headline, “Loya verdict utterly wrong, SC in disastrous situation now: R M Lodha”. The headline referred to the former CJI Justice R M Lodha. The article was about an event for the launch of Arun Shourie’s new book ‘Anita gets bail’, which is reportedly about a false case registered against his wife Anita Shourie and how it took years for the case to come to conclusion.
The headline of the article obviously showed that the ex CJI had grave reservations about how the current Supreme Court had handled the Loya case. This has been a pet issue of leftists, although the Supreme Court had chastised them with very harsh words.
For this alleged statement by the ex-CJI, he was panned on social media:
The cowardly former CJI Lodha wouldn’t take a decision on Ayodhya. He wanted parties to reach agreement offering to act as arbiter! No, Lodha, judges should make judgements, that’s what they are paid for! Not to run away!
— Chalada (@chalada1921) May 3, 2018
— UMED MEHTA (@umedmehta45) May 3, 2018
Judge Loda was a corrupt crook appointed by Sonia. Still pimps for Congress. https://t.co/JP4yB8wNeR
— Evil Yindoo (@EvilYindoo) May 4, 2018
Some expressed concern over this trend:
— GhoseSpot (@SandipGhose) May 2, 2018
However, a reading of the article, made it clear that Justice Lodha did not refer to the Loya Verdict at all. The article states that Justice Lodha stated that he always felt the independence of the judiciary is non-negotiable and it is for the CJI who is the leader of the court to take them forward. He reportedly further added that the CJI has to show statesmanship qualities and take all the brothers and sisters together.
The article also mentioned that Justice Lodha stated, “The phase we are seeing at the Supreme Court today is, to say the least, disastrous. It is high time that collegiality is restored. The judges, though with their different approaches and different viewpoints, must find a common ground that takes the Supreme Court forward. That maintains the independence of the judiciary.”
He appeared to be expressing his views on the recent rumblings within the Supreme Court. However nowhere in the body of the article, it is mentioned that Justice Lodha spoke anything about the Loya verdict. In fact, It was former Delhi HC Chief Justice AP Shah who mentioned the Loya verdict and stated that Supreme Court’s verdict on the death of Judge Loya was “utterly wrong, and jurisprudentially, incorrect on so very many counts”.
A further search into other news articles also affirmed the same. It was a book launch event attended by many former lawyers, ministers and judges and no other article had attributed the statement about the Judge Loya verdict to Justice R M Lodha. All the articles have mentioned that it was Justice Shah who mentioned the Judge Loya case.
This brings to the mind a question, was the misleading headline just a mistake or it was a sly attempt to falsely attribute a statement to a former CJI and stir a controversy when there was none?