THE SUPREME Court on Friday sought the Maharashtra government’s views on the plea for an independent probe into the death of Special CBI Judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.
The bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M Shantanagoudar, before whom the petitions came up, sought to know whether the state was represented in the matter. When told no, the court said it wanted to hear the state government too.
“The matter is very serious. It should not be heard ex-parte, but bi-parte,” the bench said. It said it also wants to see postmortem report of the judge’s death.
As soon as the bench took up the petitions — filed by B R Lone, a Maharashtra-based journalist, and activist Tehseen Poonawala — senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising urged the court not to hear the matter, as a similar plea was already pending in Mumbai High Court. The apex court hearing it will have an impact on the case pending in HC, Dave said.
The court did not entertain the submission and said, “We will not come in the way.”
Both petitions were mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud on Thursday. The court agreed to hear it on Friday itself and marked it to the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Shantanagoudar.
Loya had died on December 1, 2014, in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.
Poonawala, in his plea, contended that circumstances revolving around the death of the judge were “questionable, mysterious and contradicting”.
“It is the submission of the petitioner that the judges are bestowed with the duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the majesty of rule of law. The judiciary, if not protected, may be unable to fulfil its duty towards public at large,” the petitioner said. “In cases where prima facie material is available to investigate, it is absolutely necessary to order an inquiry.”
The issue came under the spotlight in November last year after a report in Caravan magazine linked the circumstances surrounding Loya’s death to the trial in Sohrabuddin case.
A PIL seeking probe into the death was also filed before Bombay High Court on January 8 by Bombay Lawyers’ Association.