The Supreme Court will order an independent probe if it finds the “slightest” suspicion into the death of CBI judge B H Loya, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra observed on Monday. CJI Misra made the remarks after senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Bombay Lawyers’ Association, which is seeking an independent probe into the judge’s death, pointed out alleged “discrepancies”. “You have raised that there are discrepancies…It is not about the magnitude…even if we have slightest suspicion, definitely we will order (an independent inquiry),” CJI Misra said.
On Monday, the court saw a heated exchange between Dave and counsels representing Maharashtra government — senior advocate Harish Salve and additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta. Citing discharges and witnesses turning hostile in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, Dave made a veiled remark at BJP president Amit Shah, saying that he has “never seen a case in which the entire judiciary is at beck and call of one person”.
Taking a strong view of the remark, Justice A M Khanwilkar told Dave, “You are making a very strong statement. You cannot repeat this again in the court…. Things cannot work like this.”
The remarks were made in backdrop of Dave’s argument that the four lower court judges, who were witnesses to Loya’s death and have recorded their statements before the state intelligence officials, “did not have the courage” to state “anything against the judges of the high court” after Bombay High Court judges Bhushan Gavai and Sunil Shukre gave their version to The Indian Express, saying that that there was nothing suspicious about Loya’s death.
Dave argued: “The trump card of the (Maharashtra) government is the (intelligence) report…. However…which district court judge has the courage to say anything against higher judiciary? Why should a sitting HC judge give an interview? On the administrative side, your lordship should tick off these two judges.” Dave then pointed out to “change in roster” effected in Bombay HC, due to which a review petition related to the Sohrabuddin trial was transferred from Justice Revati Mohite Dere’s bench to Justice N W Sambre.
To this, Mehta said, “I protest as an officer of this court. He is accusing the judges. I must tell your lordships that he should not be allowed to speak about sitting judges like this.” Dave responded: “You are not officer of the court…You have been Amit Shah’s lawyer for 15 years…and sitting judges are not holy cows.” Salve, interjecting, said, “This is so unfortunate.”