The Supreme Court on Monday transferred to itself the petitions pending in the Bombay High Court regarding the death of special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. The court adjourned the matter to February 2.
It also directed other High Courts in the country to not entertain any petitions related to this matter, according to Live Law.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and two other senior judges were hearing a plea asking for an independent investigation into Loya’s death. The petition was filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla and a journalist from Maharashtra, BS Lone, on January 11. The next day, a Supreme Court bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar, who were allocated the case, asked the Maharashtra government’s response on the pleas.
On Monday, senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising, who represented the petitioners, said that the records submitted by the Maharashtra government were not complete. A few documents related to Loya’s treatment were not submitted, they said. The advocates added that they wanted to present some other documents, which were obtained under the Right to Information Act, to the court.
Dave also objected to senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for the Maharashtra government. Dave said that Salve had represented Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin case, and so there was a conflict of interest.
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. BJP President Shah, who is among the accused in the case, 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.
Poonawalla and Lone’s petition called the death of judge Loya “questionable, mysterious and contradicting”. On January 12, 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 Salve submitted documents in a sealed cover to the bench, insisting that they contained certain confidential material that 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.
On Monday, Jaising and Dave also objected that the documents have to be submitted in a sealed cover. Jaising said that this was a virtual gag order on the media. However, CJI Dipak Misra clarified that there was no such order, following which both sides agreed to submit the documents in a sealed cover.