Hearing of the Petition seeking an investigation in the death of Judge Loya presiding over the CBI court in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case has been ongoing for quite a few days in the Supreme Court of India and a battery of esteemed lawyers are fielding for both the sides, whether an independent probe should be ordered, or not. Astonishingly the State of Maharashtra is opposing an independent probe in the matter citing an already concluded purportedly executed probe by Commissioner Intelligence.
In this entire turmoil what can be witnessed is Judge Loya has been let down and ostracised by his own. They are as a matter of fact none other than his brother Judges who may have worked with him or may not have. No unity was shown or voices were raised by any of his brother Judges. Unity herein does not imply show of strength but a show of support and concern to seek impartial investigation.
The recent walkout of all court staff after an Ahlmad’s arrest over a verbal spat with a judge over petty parking issue in Rohini Court premises is a lesson for the Hon’ble men sitting across the Bar. Although the details of the Ahlmad incident are bit hazy, the spontaneity of the walkout talks at length of the unity of the staff in the concerned system. The walkout can be construed or misconstrued depending on the lens you are looking through; however, there is one takeaway that cannot be missed, the “UNITY” shown by the Court Staff. It certainly bought everyone together to stage the impromptu strike, and that is nothing but unity.
The Advocate class too has from time to time shown its unity by going on strike for not only on any certain causes but also to stand by a fellow Advocate; a recent abstention is one such example. When the President of the Delhi Bar Association was attacked and his car was burnt, the entire bar association, with due notice, abstained from work to show their support in solidarity. There are other numerous instances wherein the lawyers/members of the Bar have shown extreme support and Unity in order to uphold the Rule of Law and the dignity of the profession.
The only ones remaining to go on protests and strikes are the Judges. As absurd as it may sound, ‘Judges on Strike’, is horrifying as well. With somewhere around 27 million pending cases, with the main excuse being shortage of Judges, the scenario of Judges on a strike can cripple the country.
I do not in any way profess the idea of Judges going on a strike nor am I suggesting them to do so. That would be bizzare and lead to the collapse of the institution but don’t the Judges have a right to stand by or fight for a fellow Judge? Judge Loya’s case is an example that either they do not have the right, or they are choosing not to exercise it. Judges address their counterparts as brothers, so what is stopping them from protecting their brotherhood. Judges should feel secure so that they can be transparent and impartial while being officers of the law.
Judge Loya was handling one of the most sensitive cases in the county and was under tremendous pressure and his sudden death, whether mysterious or natural should have immediately raised flags amongst the brotherhood of Judges particularly when various doubts have been raised by many about the conduct of the purported enquiry. People in whom Judge Loya had confided (a lawyer friend and a fellow judge) about the pressure on him also allegedly died, whether naturally or mysteriously cannot be said in their cases as well.
Without even a media storm, the fraternity of Judges should have petitioned or appealed to get to the roots of the matter immediately since they are prime and deserve a sense of security in discharging their duties fearlessly. Sadly, given all this, the brotherhood of Judges did not step forth to question everything when it happened and what is more questionable is why they are still silent.
Not only Judges, even advocates are officers of the court and it is their fiduciary duty to protect the institution. In my opinion, the legal fraternity as a whole should rally heavily or the least give credence to the lawyers who have been tirelessly pushing for an independent enquiry into this matter. Only then can faith be completely restored in the system, which has been shaken to its core with Justice Loya’s mysterious death.
A judge, whether of the lowest court or the Chief Justice of India, are one of the most revered personalities and the society just expects them to always be impartial, practical and sound. But can they be all that when they are not sure of their own security. When the State, which is responsible for their safety itself opposes an enquiry into the death of their own, shouldn’t that raise eyebrows everywhere?
Judges of various courts, especially the Supreme Court, have taken suo-moto cognisance in various causes and hence it would have been apt to order an immediate enquiry in the death of Judge Loya even without the bells and whistles politics. Doing so not only could have gone a long way in entrenching the sense of security of their brotherhood but also render a befitting message to public at large that Justice is not only done but it is seen to be done.
Hence it is only adept that the brotherhoods of the Judges across the country come together and fight for one of their own.
A judge’s silence is (almost entirely) golden but these custodians of the judiciary should not always stay silent especially when it comes to them or one of their own.
“Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” -Mahatma Gandhi
[The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of LiveLaw and LiveLaw does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same]