The Bombay Lawyers Association has approached the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgment dismissing its plea for an independent probe into the death of CBI special judge B H Loya. The petition settled by senior advocate Dushyant Dave also sought deletion of the court’s findings in the judgment that the petitions were a “veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary and to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions”. It contended that the “judgment has resulted in miscarriage of justice if not complete negation of justice on the facts of the case”.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had on April 19 dismissed the petition along with certain others with similar prayers. The court ruled that “documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes”. The Association had originally filed its petition seeking a probe before the Bombay High Court. The Supreme Court subsequently transferred the plea to itself.
The lawyers’ body said its attempt was not to “sensationalise the subject matter nor make a veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary or to dilute the credibility of judicial institutions”. “On the contrary, the whole attempt of the Petitioner Association was to reassure the entire judiciary that the Association would stand behind every Judge in times of challenge in his or her life. The effort was for an independent enquiry to reassure all the Members of the Judiciary and nothing more. If the enquiry was ordered as prayed for and if it found that Judge Loya had indeed died of heart attack it would have set all doubts to rest but it would have sent a strong message to the Judiciary and to the country that individuals are willing to stand up for the judiciary and not desert it in time of challenge.
As against that if enquiry had found some foul play it would have truly been a great service to the independence and impartiality of Judiciary and its Members. Either way the efforts of the Petitioner Association were to uphold the dignity and independence of judiciary and not otherwise,” it said. The review petition said the Association was only questioning the veracity of the discreet enquiry report prepared by the Commissioner of Intelligence, Maharashtra Police, on the death and that was in no way to malign the dignity of the judges whose statements formed part of the report.
“If the said observations and findings stand, it will discourage persons in future from coming forward to protect this great Institution which is more often than not under attack from the other branches of the Democracy.” Repeating its stand that the enquiry report was an attempt to pre-empt a truly independent enquiry, it added that the apex court had “committed serious errors apparent on the face of the record in not giving any weightage whatsoever to various loopholes, gaps and shortcomings” in the report.