Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
The Supreme Court today heard petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of special CBI Judge Justice B H Loya. A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud heard petitions by Maharashtra-based journalist Banduraj Sambhaji Lone and Congress’ Tehseen Poonawala, as well as one filed by former Navy chief L Ramdas.
The petitions claimed that Judge Loya died under ‘mysterious’ circumstances in 2014 when he was hearing the Sohrabuddin ‘fake encounter case’ in which BJP president Amit Shah was named an accused and later acquitted.
As arguments in Friday’s hearing remained inconclusive, the next hearing is scheduled on February 5.
On Wednesday, January 31, the Indian National Congress held a press conference demanding a court-monitored probe into the judge Loya’s death.
Expose on Justice Loya’s death in the press conference in AICC . Some shocking revelations https://t.co/qGJos19EDr
— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) January 31, 2018
While asking for an independent investigation, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal presented some documents to support its demand and also circulated a note. As reported by The Wire, the note said that the deceased judge had confided in lawyer-activist Shrikant Khandalkar and retired judge Prakash Thombre about the pressure he was facing to exonerate the accused in the case. He sought his help and both men subsequently died, the Congress alleged.
Despite the serious allegations, mainstream media hardly reported on INC’s press conference. The party said that it was “blacked out by all news channels.”
— Congress (@INCIndia) January 31, 2018
The press con was mentioned by some media platforms, however, Congress’ suspicion on the death of the two associates of judge Loya, was only peeping through paragraphs. Most dailies focused on Congress’ demand for an independent probe.
When justice Loya allegedly complained of chest pain on the night of November 30, 2014 in Nagpur, he was first taken to Dande Hospital. The judge’s sister, Anuradha Biyani, said that the ECG” — the electrocardiography unit at the facility — “was not working”. This was reported by The Caravan Magazine.
Later, The Indian Express reported that it obtained a copy of an ECG dated November 30 and the machine. Judge loya was admitted to the hospital on December 1, but the ECG was backdated due to “technical glitch”, the hospital told The Indian Express.
However, Scroll reported that the set of documents provided by the Maharashtra government to the petitioners seeking an independent investigation do not contain the ECG report. The ECG is mentioned in the “Doctor’s Progress Notes” by the Meditrina Hospital in Nagpur, the hospital where Loya was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation and was later declared as “brought dead”.
The Meditrina Hospital report said ECG taken at Dande showed a ‘T’ wave, which suggested a heart attack. However, one of the doctors present with judge Loya, when he was declared dead, said the nodes of the ECG machine at Dande “were broken”. This is what the judge’s sister was talking earlier, as mentioned in The Caravan report.
Furthermore, there was no medical bill to back up the ECG at Dande. But the Meditrina Hospital bill has two peculiar entries. Judge Loya was charged for “neurosurgery” and “diet consultation”.
Advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the Bombay Lawyers’ Association in the case, asked why Loya was charged for “neurosurgery” when he was said to have been taken to the hospital for a heart attack. Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state, said this was because all attempts were made to revive the judge.
Loya was the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge presiding over the trail of BJP top chief Amit Shah and several top officers in the Gujarat police for the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi in 2005. Shah was arrested by the CBI in July 2010 in connection with the alleged staged shooting.
Loya had taken over the trial after Justice JT Utpat, the judge who first heard the trial, was transferred from the CBI special court in mid-2014, in violation of the Supreme Court order which said that the trial be heard by the same judge from start to finish. Loya died on 1 December 2014 of an alleged cardiac arrest. Later the same year, Amit Shah was discharged by the Mumbai special CBI court.
An investigative report in The Caravan in November last year pointed at blatant inconsistencies in the judge’s death, bringing the case back to headlines. Loya’s sister alleged that the then Chief Justice of Bombay high court had offered Loya a bribe of Rs 100 crore in return for a favourable judgement. The Caravan’s report was contradicted by a report in The Indian Express.
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