The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the review petition filed by Bombay Lawyers Association (BLA) seeking review and recall of the judgment denying an independent probe into CBI Special Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya’s death.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y, Chandrachud ordered, “We have carefully gone through the Review Petition and the connected papers, but we see no reason to interfere with the order impugned. The Review Petition is, accordingly, dismissed.”
The same Apex Court bench had, in April this year, denied an investigation into the judge’s death, opining that the Petitions lacked merit and that the conduct of the petitioners and the intervenors is “lacking in bona fides and reveals a misuse of the judicial process”.
The Court had then taken into account the report of the discreet enquiry initiated by Mr. Sanjay Barve, Director General and Commissioner in the State Intelligence Department. This report had concluded that Judge Loya suffered a heart attack in the presence of his colleagues belonging to the judicial fraternity.
The reports had specifically relied on the sequence of events leading to the death, as narrated by the four judicial officers namely, Judge Shrikant Kulkarni (Member Secretary, Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority), Judge Shriram Modak (Principal District Judge, Pune), Judge Vijay Kumar Barde (District Judge, City Civil Court, Mumbai) and Judge R.R. Rathi (District Judge, Baramati).
Noting that there was no reason to disbelieve their submissions, the Court had concluded, “There is no reason for the court to doubt the clear and consistent statements of the four judicial officers. The documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes. There is no ground for the court to hold that there was a reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry.”
Soon after, BLA had challenged this judgment, asserting that the Apex Court had erred in relying on the statements of the District Judge, while highlighting several news reports published by the Caravan magazine and The Wire, which had examined the “mysterious circumstances” surrounding the judge’s death.
The petition had also questioned the enquiry report relied upon by the Apex Court, submitting, “The only defence put forward on behalf of State of Maharashtra was the unaffirmed report of an enquiry held by a Police Officer, Commissioner of State Intelligence. This document was the sole basis of State’s stand before this Hon’ble Court and yet it was not placed along with an affidavit on behalf of the State.”