The Supreme Court on Thursday was told by one of the petitioners in the Judge B.H. Loya death case that since there were serious suspicions over the circumstances in which the judge died, the apex court should order a court-monitored independent probe.
Referring to the Maharashtra government report that was prepared in a “hurried and cavalier” manner following publication of an article in Caravan magazine in November 2017, Bombay Lawyers Association’s lawyer Dushyant Dave told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that “there are strong circumstances to show the suspicious character of the report”.
Senior counsel Dave told the bench — comprising also Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud — that the report was “pre-conceived and pre-determined” and regretted that “unwittingly the judiciary has been drawn into it”.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions by activists Tehseen Poonawala, Bombay Lawyers Association, Maharashtra-based journalist Bandhuraj Sambhaji Lone, and others for an independent probe into the Judge Loya’s death.
Judge Loya was holding trial in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout case in which present Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah was an accused. Later, Shah was discharged in the case.
Telling the bench that the Maharashtra government had not assisted the court in the manner it should have done, Dave said the probe was carried out in a hasty manner only to “pre-empt any other investigation or voice in the matter”.
He wondered how the Bombay High Court Chief Justice, without consulting other senior Judges, allowed the Commissioner Intelligence to hold inquiries.
“It is unusual for the High Court Chief Justice to grant permission without consulting other senior judges,” he said.
Raising doubts on Judge Loya’s death, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation disputed the Maharashtra government’s report that said he died of heart attack.
The NGO referred to the expert medical opinion based on histopathology and ECG report of the late Judge to contend that it could have been due to other reasons as well.
The NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan told the bench that well-known cardiologist Dr Upendra Kaul has “virtually ruled out a heart attack as the cause of Judge Loya’s death on the basis of histopathology and ECG reports”.
Padmashri awardee Dr Kaul is a former Professor of cardiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The court was told that histopathology and the ECG reports were not presented in the court by the state government along with its inquiry report.
Bhushan said doctors at the Dande Hospital and Meditrina Hospital in Nagpur, where Judge Loya was treated before his death, in their statements filed with the Maharashtra government had noted tall T-waves in the ECG, but the ECG report published by a newspaper showed no such markings.
Bhushan said it was “very serious matter” if the ECG report accessed by a media organisation was a “fabricated one”.
During the course of hearing, Dave told the bench that it had an explanation for every point he was making but similar questions were not posed when Maharashtra government’s counsel argued on the matter.
“Every time I say something, make a point, Judges have an explanation. But the same did not happen when the senior counsel for Maharashtra was arguing. That troubles me,” Dave told Justice Chandrachud, who in turn said: “We don’t want a certificate from arguing counsel.”
The hearing in the matter will continue on Friday.