The Supreme Court will Thursday pronounce its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking a probe into the death of CBI special judge Brijmohan Harikishan Loya, who was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.
Five petitions have been listed for judgment before a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud at 10.30 am. The bench, which heard extensive arguments in the matter, had reserved its order on March 16.
Loya, 48, records show, died of a heart attack in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, a day after he attended the wedding and reception of the daughter of fellow judge Swapna Joshi, now a Bombay High Court judge. His death became a controversy following a report in Caravan magazine, which quoted Loya’s sister and father suggesting foul play and cover-up in the incident.
A subsequent investigation by The Indian Express brought out that several claims in the report were not supported by evidence on the ground, including official records. Two judges of Bombay High Court, Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Sunil Shukre, who both went to the hospital that day and made arrangements for taking Loya’s body to the family’s home in Latur, told this paper that there was nothing in the circumstances to warrant any suspicion.
BJP president Amit Shah was one of the accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. He was later discharged.
The Bombay Lawyers’ Association moved the Bombay High Court, seeking a probe in the matter. PILs were filed in the Supreme Court. The apex court transferred the petitions in Bombay HC to itself and heard all of them together.
Appearing for the lawyers’ association, senior advocate Dushyant Dave sought to punch holes in the official version about the death. Senior advocate Harish Salve, who represented Maharashtra, said the state police had carried out a “discreet inquiry” after media reports raised questions on the circumstances surrounding the judge’s death. The statements of four judges who attended the marriage with Loya were recorded after obtaining permission of the Bombay High Court Chief Justice, he said. The statements, Salve told the court, showed there was no foul play.
Dave claimed that there were serious contradictions in the explanations given by the state. He said the father and sister of the late judge had demanded a probe.
Advocate Indira Jaising, who also appeared for the petitioners, raised questions regarding Loya’s stay at Ravi Bhavan, where he is said to have spent the night of November 30, 2014 while in Nagpur to attend the wedding.
But the court pointed out that it had an entry in the name of the protocol officer of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court who usually makes bookings for judges whenever they are there on visits.
Rohatgi countered Dave and Jaising’s contentions and called the claims motivated.