The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed petitions seeking a SIT (special investigation team) probe into the death of judge B H Loya, who was conducting a trial in the killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh in Gujarat in which now BJP president Amit Shah was an accused.
Holding that there was absolutely no merit in the petitions, a bench of chief justice Dipak Misra, justice A M Khanwilkar and justice D Y Chandrachud said judge Loya met a natural death while in Nagpur.
Dismissing the petitions, the court said: “There is no doubt and it is clear from the statements of the judicial officers that Loya died of natural causes.”
Three of the judicial officers, the court said, had travelled with judge Loya by train from Mumbai to Nagpur to attend a wedding reception. They stayed together at Ravi Bhawan, attended the function and during the day they also visited the residences of a few judges.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh was allegedly shot dead in a stage-managed shoot-out. One of the accused was Amit Shah, who was then the home minister in Gujarat when the chief minister was now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After Loya’s death in November 2014, Shah was discharged and the Central Bureau of Investigation refused to file an appeal against it.
The Supreme Court ruling yesterday did nothing to quieten the political temperature. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came down heavily on Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying he should apologise to Shah, the country and the judiciary.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said all the petitions were politically motivated and were aimed at defaming Shah. “He (Gandhi) got a befitting reply from the Supreme Court today.”
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad echoed the sentiment and said Gandhi should hang his head in shame. The Congress retorted that it was a “sad letter day” in India’s history and reiterated its demand for a fair investigation into Loya’s “mysterious death”. It listed the chain of events leading to his death.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist demanded that the case be heard by a larger bench and described as “unfortunate” the apex court’s rejection of demands for an independent probe into Loya’s death.
The judgment pronounced by Justice Chandrachud took exception to the way the public interest litigation (PIL) was filed and insinuations were made against the committee of administrators of the Bombay High Court and the judges of the Supreme Court in the course of the hearing.
But the court said it was not initiating civil contempt against the petitioner for scandalising the judiciary. It pulled up the petitioners for making unfounded allegations against the judicial officers which were extraneous to the issue.
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