Loya death questions in SC

Congress president Rahul Gandhi with senior Opposition leaders in New Delhi on Friday. The leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind to demand an SIT probe into judge BH Loya’s death. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Senior advocate Indira Jaising on Friday raised serious doubts about the Maharashtra government's claim that judge B.H. Loya, who had been hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, had died of cardiac arrest and urged the Supreme Court to summon the case diary pertaining to his death.

Jaising, who is appearing for former naval chief Admiral Ramdoss, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the "inquest panchnama of the personal belongings of Loya" had not been produced till date and that his mobile phone was returned to his family by the government a few days after his death.

"Further, how is the date of death in the inquest report dated December 1, 2014, written as December 7, 2014?" she asked the bench that also included Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

The court is dealing with a batch of petitions filed by various individuals and lawyers' forums seeking an independent probe into the death of Loya, on December 1, 2014, ostensibly due to a heart attack.

BJP president Amit Shah had been an accused in the Sohrabuddin case. A month after special CBI judge Loya's death, Shah was acquitted.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, countered the doubts raised by Jaising.

Rohatgi said that in the inquest report, the "way of writing" was such that December "1" appeared as "7".

Jaising told the court that the name of judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya had been incorrectly written as Brij Mohan Loya in at least 10 documents submitted by the Maharashtra government, which she said indicated that an attempt was being made to conceal certain truths.

"The state has not produced the case diary. It is important to know the time at which the police station received a call that an accidental death had ensued. The diary would also provide a minute-by-minute account of the happenings," she said, urging the court to summon the case diary from the government for scrutiny by the bench.

The senior counsel said Loya did not suffer from any cardiac, sugar or blood pressure problems and had led an active life, playing tennis for two hours a day, and that he was only 48 at the time of death. "Statements of Loya's wife, sister, father and son that there is nothing suspicious as to the death have been procured under duress and are self-serving statements which should be ignored in view of their earlier statements," Jaising said.

Advocate P.S. Surendranath, appearing for the All India Lawyers' Union, sought an independent probe into the death of judge Loya and urged the court to ensure that judges dealing with high-profile cases, particularly those belonging to politicians, should be provided "Z-plus" category security.

The arguments will resume on Monday, when the Maharashtra government is expected to counter the submissions.


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