Soon after the media coverage on the four seniormost judges of Supreme Court who conducted a press conference showing their desolation toward the working of the judiciary, the event marked as an opening of certain subdued controversies into the media gateway. The four seniormost judges consisting of Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B Lokur conducted a press conference saying that the administration of the country’s highest court was not in order. The event also highlighted a rift between the aforesaid justices with Dipak Mishra, the current chief justice of India. The Justices main contention arose on the powers of the chief justice on calling constitutional bench and allotting cases to the judges.
While this issue was made another reason for the politicians to lash out at each other, a subdued controversy on the unnatural death of session judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who was adjudging over the trail of BJP top chief Amit Shah and several top officers in the Gujarat police for the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi in 2005. At the time of his death, he was at Nagpur attending his colleague’s daughter wedding when the family was informed of his death due to a heart attack.
What is the controversy?
The sudden death of Justice Loya, arose suspicious background of having been conspired by political figure because at the time of his death he was hearing only one case i.e. of the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh a reported terrorist in which Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, was an accused. The suspicion was triggered by Justice Loya’s father and sister in an interview they gave to the Caravan magazine, which quoted two unnamed sources in a local police station and the government medical college as saying that they had been informed of Loya’s death by midnight, and the postmortem was done shortly after midnight. But according to the police records, Loya died at 6:15 in the morning of 1st December 2014, he complained of chest pain at 4 am and was taken to hospital but could not be saved. The postmortem report states that the death was caused due to coronary artery insufficiency. From these accounts, deeply disturbing questions emerged about Loya’s death: questions about inconsistencies in the reported account of the death; about the procedures followed after his death; and about the condition of the judge’s body when it was handed over to the family. Though the family asked for an inquiry commission to probe Loya’s death, none was ever set up. The body was sent to the ancestral home of Loya, Gategaon in Latur district along with the post-mortem report in an uncared state. The question still remains unanswered to the family member of Justice Loya as to Why was the family not informed when Loya was taken to the hospital? Why were they not informed as soon as he died? Why were they not asked for approval of a post-mortem, or informed that one was to be performed before the procedure was carried out? Who recommended the post-mortem, and why? What was suspicious about Loya’s death to cause a post-mortem to be recommended?
Justice Loya was the second judge hearing on this case when the case was shifted to Maharashtra High Court from Gujarat in 2012, the first judge was transferred from the case a day before Shah was expected to appear in the court. Justice Utpat, the first judge who heard the matter, was transferred from the CBI special court in mid-2014 and replaced by Loya. On 6th June 2014, Utpat had reprimanded Amit Shah for seeking exemption from appearing in court. After Shah failed to appear on the next date, 20 June, Utpat fixed a hearing for 26 June but was transferred on 25th June. On 31st October 2014, Loya, who had allowed Shah the exemption, asked why Shah had failed to appear in court despite being in Mumbai on that date. He set the next date of hearing for 15 December. After the death of Justice Loya on 1st December 2014 the third judge who was appointed to this case after justice Loya’s death heard Shah’s discharge petition over three days and dropped charges against him on December 30, 2014.
Arranging the line of incidents that took place in this accord, shows direct political influence in Justice Loya’s death. His travel to Nagpur to attend a colleague’s daughter’s wedding which he did not intend to attend on the first place, accompanying his sudden death, the suppression of any kind of inquiry in the cause of his death, and Amit Shah’s clean chit in Sohrabuddin case clearly shows the high level of conspiracy involved in this case.
The issue became more intense when on Sunday Justice Loya son, Arjun Loya appeared before the media and said that the family has no more suspicion or anyone to blame for the death of Justice Loya, and his family must be left alone. Seeing the range of political influence this case projects, the sudden appearance of Justice Loya’s son as refraining from any suspicion on his father’s death is doubted to be another political suppression of the involved political party, leaving the mystery of the sudden death of Justice Loya unsolved.
Author: Anushtha Srivastava
You can reach author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anushtha is currently pursuing law from UPES, Dehradun. She is also a researcher with TA.