Independent Probe Into Judge Loya's Death? Top Court To Decide Today

Independent Probe Into Judge Loya

New Delhi:  A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is expected to decide today whether an independent investigation should be held into the death of judge BH Loya. The 48-year-old judge was handling a murder case in which BJP chief Amit Shah was among the accused, when he died of a heart attack in 2014. The judge who replaced him ruled there was not enough evidence against Mr Shah to merit a trial. Five petitions calling for an inquiry were filed after questions were raised about the death. The court said it would order an investigation if there was ground for suspicion.

Here are the 10 facts in this big case:

  1. The Supreme Court said it was looking into "every aspect of the documents and material in minute detail". "If our conscience is aroused to order inquiry, we will not hesitate to order an investigation into the death in public interest," the three-judge bench said during one of the hearings.
  2. Judge Loya died of a heart attack in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 while hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. In an interview to the Caravan magazine last year, his sister Anuradha Biyani raised questions about the death. Another relative alleged that judge Loya was offered a huge bribe and was under immense mental pressure.  The Maharashtra police rubbished the family's claims.
  3. Judge Loya's son Anuj Loya has said the family no longer has any suspicion about the death. "There was some suspicion before due to emotional turmoil, but now it is clear," Anuj Loya told reporters in January.
  4. The Maharashtra government told the top court that the petitions that sought an independent probe are motivated. The judge's death, it said, was being politicized since he was connected with a criminal case in which a person heading a political party was discharged.
  5. The Maharashtra government also contended that the statement of the four judges who were with judge Loya in his last hours were "unimpeacheable". Judges J Kulkarni, J Barde, J Modak and JRR Rathi had given statements had given statements that said the death of Judge Loya was "natural and unfortunate", the state said.
  6. The petitioners pointed out that the judge was a teetotaller and led an active life, playing tennis every day for two hours. He or his family had no history of heart ailments, the court was further told.
  7. The top court pulled up the police, saying it broke the rules that called for a First Information Report and a closure report in such circumstances.
  8. The case became a rallying point for the opposition, which said there was a threat to democracy when lawyers and judges working on important cases were targetted. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi met President Ram Nath Kovind with a group of lawmakers, asking for an independent investigation into judge Loya's death.
  9. The Congress also said besides Judge Loya, two men he reportedly confided in about pressure and threats -- lawyer Shrikant Khandalkar and district judge Prakash Thombre --  died mysteriously. In 2015, lawyer Shrikant Khandalkar fell to his death from the sixth floor of a district court building. The next year, Prakash Thombre fell from the top berth inside a train coach and his spine broke.
  10. The assignment of the case was one of the issues that triggered the unprecedented rift within the Supreme Court earlier this year. The case was reassigned after four of the most senior judges publicly alleged that cases with "far-reaching consequences" were being assigned to junior judges.

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