Probe “Suspicious Death” Of Judge Handling Sohrabuddin Case: Justice AP Shah
In an interview to NDTV, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice A.P. Shah has spoken out about the allegations of foul play in the death of Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the Special CBI Judge presiding over the trial of BJP President Amit Shah and several Gujarat Police Officers in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.
Justice Shah was quoted as saying, “His family feels very strongly that there was some foul play in his death. Now there was a long list of circumstances starting from the fact that there was blood on his clothes, and somebody signed the postmortem report as it is. They feel that there is something wrong with the conclusion that he died of cardiac arrest…
…I feel that it is very necessary that the head of judiciary – either CJI (chief Justice of India) or Chief Justice of Bombay High Court should look into it.”
In another conversation with The Wire, Justice Shah opined that not enquiring into the allegations made by the family “would send a very wrong signal to the judiciary, particularly the lower cadre”. He also expressed concerns over allegations of corruption, as Judge Loya was allegedly offered a bribe of Rs. 100 crore
“It is necessary that the chief justice of the high court or the Chief Justice of India himself should look into this material and decide whether to order an enquiry, because if these allegations are not investigated it causes serious stigma on the judiciary,” he was quoted as saying.
The allegations first appeared in two reports by The Caravan Magazine, which cited interviews with Judge Loya’s relatives– his sister Anuradha Biyani, niece Nupur Balaprasad Biyani and father Harkishan. According to the magazine, Judge Loya’s wife Sharmila and son Anuj declined to speak since they feared for their lives.
As per the article, Judge Loya was in Nagpur for the 30 November, 2014 wedding of the daughter of another sitting Judge at the Mumbai Sessions Court, Swapna Joshi. On 1 December, his family members received calls informing them about his demise after suffering a massive cardiac arrest.
The investigative report by Mr. Niranjan Takle points out glaring inconsistencies in the cardiac arrest story. It highlights inconsistencies in the reported account of the death. There were large variations in the precise time of his death and that fact that Judge Loya’s phone was wiped clean of all data before it was returned to the family. The Judge’s postmortem report was also allegedly signed by “maiyatacha chulatbhau”, or paternal cousin, when his family says there is no such person in the family. Further, his family members had noticed blood on his clothes.
Another article had alleged that Justice Mohit Shah had offered Judge Loya Rs. 100 crore for a judgment in favor of Mr. Amit Shah. The article had quote the Judge’s sister, who claimed that Justice Shah would “ would call him late at night to meet in civil dress and pressure him to issue the judgment as soon as possible and to ensure that it is a positive judgment.
My brother was offered a bribe of 100 crore in return for a favorable judgment. Mohit Shah, the chief justice, made the offer himself.“
Shortly after Judge Loya’s death, a new Judge, M.B. Gosavi had discharged Mr. Amit Shah, after hearing the parties for three days. The article goes on to question the manner in which the trial took place, asserting that it had violated a September 2012 Supreme Court order, that the Sohrabuddin trial “should be conducted from beginning to end by the same officer”.