Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and two other senior judges on Monday will hear a plea asking for an independent investigation into the death of special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya.
The Supreme Court’s cause list shows that Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud will hear the petition filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla and a journalist from Maharashtra, BS Lone.
The petitions were filed on January 11. The next day, a bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar, who were allocated the case, asked the Maharashtra government’s response on the pleas.
The allocation of the case to this bench is believed to have triggered the four top judges of the Supreme Court – J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph – to hold an unprecedented press conference, in which they voiced their reservations regarding the manner in which the chief justice had been assigning cases to benches.
While the four judges did not specify the cases, on being pointedly and repeatedly asked they confirmed that they had brought up the allocation of Judge Loya case with the chief justice.
At the time of his death on December 1, 2014, Loya was presiding over a special CBI court in Mumbai, hearing the case of the alleged extrajudicial murder by the Gujarat Police of alleged extortionist Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Among the accused in the case was Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, who was the home minister of Gujarat when the alleged fake encounter took place.
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.
The petition and earlier hearing
Poonawalla and Lone’s petition called the death of judge Loya “questionable, mysterious and contradicting”.
Justices Mishra and Shantanagoudar directed the Maharashtra government to make available all documents pertaining to the death of Judge Loya to the petitioners.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Maharashtra, submitted documents in a sealed cover to the bench, insisting that they contained certain confidential material which cannot be shared in public and therefore should not be handed over to petitioners.
On the court’s direction, Salve later agreed that the documents could be shown to the petitioners’ counsel on the understanding that they should not be made public.