[Exclusive] Loya Case Judgment Tomorrow: Read The Summary Of High Voltage Hearing
The judgment in the string of writ petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of CBI special judge B. H. Loya is scheduled to be pronounced on Thursday morning by the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar.
The bench had reserved its verdict on March 16.
Here is the summary of the marathon hearing in the Case
After initially being placed before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, the petitions were listed for hearing before the bench headed by Chief Justice Misra.
The bench had directed the transfer to itself of the similar writ petitions by the Bombay Lawyers’ Association and one Suryakant Lodge pending before the Bombay High Court, besides ordering the Bombay High Court as well as all other High Courts to not entertain any petitions where the fact in issue is identical to the present petitions.
Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaising and V. Giri had advanced submissions on behalf of the Bombay Lawyers’ Association, an intervenor and Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla respectively in the course of the eventful hearing.
Mr. Dave had submitted, “I have a prepared a note in respect of the report of the commissioner of intelligence of the state of Maharashtra which requires immediate consideration. The report is a bundle of contradictions. We pray that the report be brought on record by way of affidavit so that we can initiate proceedings under section 340 Cr. P. C.”
Ms. Jaising had also prayed that the register of Ravi Bhavan, the ECG report if any performed and the complete statement of registrar R. Rathi in which three sentences are missing be filed.
Mr. Dave had exclaimed, “I will be filing an application under Order 9 of the Supreme Court Rules to seek permission to cross examine these judicial officers. There is a judgment to that effect”.
Senior Counsel Pallav Sisodia, representing Mumbai based journalist Bandhuraj Sambhaji Lone, had concluded a brief submission, asserting, “This exercise is like an independent inquiry as Your Lordships are seeing everything”.
Ms. Jaising had commenced her arguments with the remark, “If Mr. Sisodia’s client did not want an inquiry, then why was the petition filed?”, which had incited a war of words between the counsel.
Read the Full Report Here
In response to Ms. Jaising’s submissions, Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the state of Maharashtra had remarked, “Ms. Jaising is seeking an investigation but she has not done any homework. She is talking about the transfer of judge Utpat, the Sohrabuddin trial, the story in the Caravan? Why is the letter of the retired Bombay High Court judge being relied upon? It was written after the story in the Caravan was published. Is this a PIL?”
“Are you trying to say I have a motive? Fine”, Ms. Jaising had retorted.
Mr. Rohatgi had advanced submissions on the maintainability of PILs based on newspaper reports, the contents of the present petitions and the affidavits and the credentials of the petitioners
Mr. Rohatgi had reiterated the sequence of events leading to the death by heart attack of judge Loya, adding, “Attempts at resuscitation were made at the Meditrina Hospital upon which judge Loya was pronounced as having been brought dead. The post mortem was directed as he had not died under the care of the hospital. Four judicial officers have confirmed this by a letter on their own letterheads, and in one case, in his own hand. These are letters written of their own accord and not in an interrogation. The High Court judges who reached the hospital at around 7 AM on the date of the death have also affirmed the same. The post mortem was conducted at 10 AM at a government hospital, after which the body was sent to judge Loya’s hometown. It is all contemporaneous”.
Commencing his rejoinder arguments, Mr. Dave had advanced, “The manner in which this matter is proceeding is not satisfactory. The matter cannot be thrown out at this stage...the pleadings need to be complete, otherwise, how will I controvert? The Supreme Court Rules require all statements to be on affidavit...a mere report cannot be taken on record...I am not sure why the court is reluctant to issue notice to the state to file affidavit. The court cannot allow these documents to be exchanged across the bar. These four judicial officers must be asked to come on affidavit. If they refuse, then there is a problem”
Mr. Dave had remarked, “In the past also, mysterious circumstances have surrounded judges who have stood in the path of the respondents, like Justice Patel in respect of the Ishrat Jahan encounter, while those who have acted in accordance with them have been rewarded”, which was followed by a war of words between himself and the counsel for the respondents.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, having filed an intervention application on behalf of CPIL, has drawn the attention of the bench to additional evidence retrieved under RTI queries-
“Samples of judge Loya’s heart (muscle tissue and arteries) were sent for histopathology examination. The report says that everything was normal, while it is well known that in the event of a heart attack, one part of the muscles die. Further, it is apparent from the ECG report that it could not be of a person who has had a heart attack half an hour back”.
Recapitulating the grounds for the rejection of the discreet inquiry report of the Maharashtra state Intelligence, Mr. Dave had summarised, “the apex court had assigned the investigation (in the Sohrabuddin murder) to the CBI and directed the trial to be transferred outside of Gujarat. There was the force dictum that the trial shall be conducted by a single judge from start to finish. Despite that, judge Utpat was transferred and judge Loya was inducted, who mandated the presence of the accused. The hearing had been adjourned to December 15, 2014, but judge Loya died on December 1, 2014. The new judge discharged the accused (Amit Shah) and no appeal was preferred by the CBI...Your Lordships should suo motu direct the CBI to appeal...then the Caravan article appeared, followed by the state government constituting a one-man committee for the discreet inquiry...there are the interviews of judge Loya’s father and sisters and the handwritten letter of February, 2015 which are in stark contrast with the subsequent self serving statements procured from them...”
Thereupon, Advocate Prashant Bhushan had commenced his arguments on behalf of the CPIL.
Senior Counsel Harish Salve, also representing the state of Maharashtra, had made a brief submission- “it has been alleged that the entire system is dancing to the tune of one man. If that is true, we might as well wind up the judiciary. Four district level judges and two High Court judges have stated that they were present with judge Loya when he passed away. Is it being suggested that they are conspirators in the murder? Did they bump off their colleague? If the Supreme Court feels the need for further inquiry three years after the incident, it will be an insinuation on those judges. The subordinate judiciary is the most vulnerable and needs to be protected...this is not some environmental case where an inquiry may be ordered...please do not allow this to happen...”
Responding to Advocate Prashant Bhushan’s submission, made in reliance on an article dated February 11 published in the Caravan citing the observations of renowned forensic expert Dr. R. K. Sharma (formerly the Head of Forensics Department at the AIIMS, New Delhi) that he had rendered upon examination of judge Loya’s medical reports, Mr. Rohatgi had clarified, “the Nagpur Police, after the appearance of the February 11 article in the Caravan, wherein Dr. Sharma has been quoted as opining that the accidental death could not be attributed to a heart attack, has addressed a letter dated February 14 to the AIIMS, New Delhi. Replying to the said letter, AIIMS has conveyed that upon confirmation with Dr. Sharma, he has stated that he has been ‘grossly misquoted on the death of judge Loya by the Caravan’, that the ‘conclusions (cited in the article) are imaginary, that the ‘discussion was general’ and that his opinion as quoted in the article does not subscribe to the medical reports”.