A former Bombay High Court judge has urged the court’s chief justice to set up a special investigation team to probe the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya in 2014.

Loya had died when he was hearing a matter related to the allegedly staged encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh – a case in which Amit Shah, now the Bharatiya Janata Party National President, was a suspect. Loya’s family has raised a number of questions about his death, as reported by The Caravan on November 20.

In his letter written the next day, retired Justice BH Marlapalle said that ordering an investigation would help subordinate judges feel that “they are not orphans”. Loya was a district level judge.

“I, for one, believe firmly believe this is a fit case for causing investigation by an SIT, irrespective of its outcome at this point of time,” Marlapalle wrote to Chief Justice Manjula Chellur in the letter, according to The Caravan. “...the High Court is the guardian of the subordinate judiciary,” Marlapalle wrote.

‘A criminal silence’

Former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Shourie on Friday called the mainstream media’s silence on Loya’s death “criminal”. Shourie told the Caravan that the mainstream media is on “its last legs” and criticised it for being part of “the government establishment”. He added that the media should have verified information from the story but “just don’t want to do it”.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday also demanded a probe into Loya’s death. He said that the circumstances on which the judge was found death, based on reports he had read, seemed suspicious, the Business Standard reported. Earlier on Friday, Communist leaders had asked for an investigation into Loya’s death.

The Latur Bar Association also passed a resolution on Friday, demanding a court-monitored CBI inquiry into the death, the Mumbai Mirror reported. It is the only way to find answers to the “forest of questions” surrounding the case, the association said, according to NDTV.

Judge Loya’s death

Although official reports at the time called Loya’s death an otherwise unremarkable heart attack, members of his family said there are inconsistencies in many parts of this story, from the recorded time of death and the condition his body was found in to the way it was handled.

He took over as the judge in the Special CBI Court in Mumbai after another judge was transferred. At the time of his death in 2014, the only case he was hearing was that of Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s alleged encounter.

Sheikh, a wanted criminal, was allegedly killed in a staged encounter by Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorism Squad. The original inquiry into the matter was accused of taking place at the behest of the BJP chief Amit Shah, who was then the home minister of Gujarat.