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CBI judge shifted before Sohrabuddin trial began: Maharashtra to SC

The assertion was made by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi during a hearing on petitions seeking a probe into the death of CBI judge B H Loya in 2014. Loya took over the case after the transfer in June 2014 of Utpat to Pune.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: February 10, 2018 2:34 pm
Opposition leaders led by Rahul Gandhi met the President to seek an independent probe into Loya’s death. (Express Photo/Anil Sharma)

Countering claims that CBI Judge J T Utpat, who was assigned the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, was transferred out during the pendency of the trial more than three years ago, in violation of a Supreme Court order, the Maharashtra government told the apex court Friday that the trial had not begun when the judge was shifted.

The assertion was made by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi during a hearing on petitions seeking a probe into the death of CBI judge B H Loya in 2014. Loya took over the case after the transfer in June 2014 of Utpat to Pune. According to official records, Loya died of a heart attack in Nagpur on December 1, 2014.

Questioning the transfer, the petitioners had cited a Supreme Court ruling, directing one judge to conduct the entire fake encounter trial.

Taking on senior advocate Indira Jaising, who was appearing for one of the petitioners, Rohatgi said, “They do not even do their homework. They damn the High Court Administrative Committee… transfer happened in 2014. Trial started only few months ago… do they even know what a trial is?”

Jaising had questioned the “tearing hurry” behind the decision to transfer Utpat to Pune. “Why did they not seek the leave of the Supreme Court?” she asked.

Referring to four Bombay judges who had submitted statements to police on Loya’s death, Rohatgi said, “If the four judges are to be believed, this case has to end today… This is not any intervention… Submission shows there is some other motive”.

Visibly upset, Jaising countered: “Yes, I have a motive. Are you satisfied?” Rohatgi responded: “Yes, your petition is motivated, baseless and based on yellow journalism.”

Jaising highlighted what she claimed were contradictions in the police and medical reports related to the Judge’s death and said the statement given by judge R R Rathi “appears to be the one of the most credible as of now.”

Rathi, she pointed out, had said that no ECG could be done at the Dande hospital where Loya was taken first after he suffered the heart attack as the nodes of the machine were broken. “There are grave reasons to suspect that all is not well… We don’t know if he died of heart attack,” said Jaising.

Seeking a court-monitored independent investigation, she said, “It’s a matter of utmost public importance… Public agencies have not done their duty.” While any one situation by itself may not be raise any suspicion, they cumulatively do, she said.

Jaising said that in cases of cardiac problems, clinical and family history were important facts. Loya’s sister had claimed that no member of the family suffered from any cardiac problems and that he too was healthy, she said.

Jaising argued that the statements of relatives that they have no suspicion was of no relevance and must be ignored. “There were reasons to suspect that these were obtained under duress and amounts to intervention in justice,” Jaising said.

Referring to the statement by Loya’s sister that no judge accompanied Loya’s body, she said this was also corroborated by an interview given by one of the judges to The Indian Express. Speaking to this newspaper, Justice Bhushan Gavai had said that the car in which they were accompanying the body had broken down and hence there was a delay.

Jaising said she was highlighting this point only to show that the sister’s words were credible and that her demand for a probe should not be dismissed entirely.

Jaising alleged that Dr Prashant Rathi, whom the body was handed over to, was no blood relative of Loya. “He was only Loya’s uncle’s brother-in-law… so how can police hand over the dead body to him who in turn hands it over to the family?” she said.

Responding to Rohatgi’s objections, she said it was not her duty to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, but that of the investigators.

Jaising said even a retired judge had written to the Bombay High Court Chief Justice demanding a probe into the circumstances leading to Loya’s death. But Rohatgi said this was done on the same day a report in Caravan magazine alleged that the death occurred in suspicions circumstances.

Judge Loya’s death came under the spotlight last November following the Caravan report in which Loya’s sister and other relatives raised questions over the circumstances surrounding the death.

A subsequent investigation by The Indian Express revealed that crucial claims in the report — “the ECG was not working”, someone unknown to the family picked up the body, the judge was virtually abandoned after his death and that his body was sent to his village home unescorted — were not supported by evidence on the ground, including official records.

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  1. Rajaram V.V.
    Feb 10, 2018 at 4:11 pm
    I know now why so many lakhs of cases are pending in the law courts. People dig up cases which are of no relevance only to get political advantage wasting the courts resources.
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      Raju
      Feb 10, 2018 at 10:21 pm
      This case is of utmost importance. The credibility of entire judicial system hinges on it. If the entire ins utions and judicial system can be arm twisted, and even judges can be killed with impunity to escape from cases by powerful people, how can I describe India , a banana republic? After all why the sympathizers of indefensible oppose an inquiry? Why are they afraid?
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      vinayak upadhyaya
      Feb 10, 2018 at 2:25 pm
      Congress is master in propaganda . A pseudo Gandhi family which has no link with Mahatma Gandhi is fooling country from last 70 years . In 1990 China's GDP was a par with Indian GDP but today six times than our GDP. From 2004 to 2014 congress did nothing for industrial production . They created huge trade deficit with China and crippled local industries. NPA of banks have increased to about one million crore.
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      1. S
        Swami
        Feb 10, 2018 at 12:31 pm
        ECG machine nor the best cardiologist can stop death.The suspicious is ECG machine s broken,such a vital machine without replacement and just one in a hospital. car brakes down, such reputed judge with no security, no other car accompanied them. Why?Was the heart attack induced by chemicals?The beneficiary in all this is non- other then Vomit Shah, the same who was accused in BJP MLA Haren pandya murder, the same who was accused in Gujarat genocide etc.
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          Ravi kulkarni
          Feb 10, 2018 at 11:50 am
          I think the UnIndian Express is allowing the PIDI PAPPU followers to negative all the sensible comments/observations made by readers.This Raffi Paper and PIDI and his PAPPI should know this way you can have false satisfaction that many people are on your side but in reality you are fooling none but YOURSELF.mf637
          (5)(17)
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          1. S
            Swami
            Feb 10, 2018 at 12:26 pm
            Citizens of india are always on the side of Truth.With Moochiji at the helm of affairs we Indians are Damm sure Truth and M00chiji cannot exists side by side.Moochiji represents lies and evil.Proof is the dreaded charges atmosphere of hatred and bloodshed across the nation, Citizens are restless with no Progress and development, Annaji is restless with undeclared Corruption. People of Gujarat had shown M00chiji His true position.
            (5)(5)
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            1. Patnam Umamaheshwaran
              Feb 10, 2018 at 12:56 pm
              Why I E is publishing trash of Ravi Kulkarni ..
              (2)(3)
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                Ravi kulkarni
                Feb 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm
                Why you are reading that trash.It appears you like trash any relation with trash cleaning animal.Enjoy it man.
                (0)(1)
              2. Zaheer Dharwar
                Feb 10, 2018 at 2:22 pm
                Khaki Chaddi is out of Fashion now, come out of it.
                (2)(2)
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                1. R
                  Ravi kulkarni
                  Feb 10, 2018 at 5:04 pm
                  And be like you in a phati mo Lungi and that too without any chaddi.Shi.
                  (1)(1)
              3. Saurabh Political
                Feb 10, 2018 at 11:08 am
                Personal attacks in order to coerce lawyers into silence is unwarranted contempt of justice system. Let arguments be made in defense and trust the Supreme Court to do their .
                (6)(4)
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