The Bombay Lawyers Association on Saturday claimed that a Supreme Court case asking to investigate the death of special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya was motivated and was filed only after the Bombay Lawyers Association had filed a similar case at the Bombay High Court.
Loya had died under mysterious circumstances in 2014. While the Bombay Lawyers Association had filed their case on January 4, the case received a petition number from the registrar of the Bombay High Court only on the afternoon of January 12, after the four senior-most Supreme Court judges after the Chief Justice of India held an unprecedented conference alleging impropriety in Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s assignment of cases.
“Our petition in the Bombay High Court was filed on January 4,” Ahmad Abdi, president of the Bombay Lawyers Association said. “This Delhi petition has been filed subsequently. This was motivated to remove the case from the Bombay High Court and heard at the Supreme Court instead.”
The immediate impetus of this press conference is believed to be the assignment of the investigation into Judge Loya’s death to Justice Arun Kumar Misra, a relatively junior judge of the Supreme Court. However, there have been other cases where questions have been raised about the Chief Justice’s role as the master of the roster. The Supreme Court Bar Association on January 13 said that the charges against Misra were not “substantial”.
Abdi said that Mumbai journalist BS Lone filed a case with the apex court only after the association’s case got media coverage and that this was “motivated” to get the case assigned for a favourable outcome.
“We are filing an intervention with the Supreme Court to have this case heard by Bombay High Court, which is in charge of the subordinate judiciary of Maharashtra of which Judge Loya was a part,” Abdi said.
The registrar reportedly told Abdi he was unable to allot a number for the case as he was busy earlier, Abdi said. “If the lawyers association faces this treatment what about the general public? The high court takes suo motu cognisance of potholes on roads and not in the case of a judge’s death. My demand is for there to be an open enquiry.”
Meanwhile, the apex court will not hear Lone’s petition on Monday as one of the judges scheduled to hear the case, Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar, is ill and on leave. The case will be posted for hearing on January 16, the additional registrar of the court said in a notice.
CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya was presiding over the case relating to the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah was an accused. Loya died in December 2014. In November, the Caravan magazine brought out startling revelations that raised doubts on whether Loya’s death was natural. Since then, there have been demands for an independent probe into the death.