As many as 114 members of 15 Opposition parties on Friday approached President Ram Nath Kovind demanding a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team look into the death of special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. The Opposition Parliament MPs submitted a petition to the president saying there were many theories regarding judge Loya’s death and only an SIT investigation can solve it.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the members, from both Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, felt discomfort over judge Loya’s death. “A judge died under suspicious circumstances,” Gandhi told reporters after meeting Kovind. “It is owed to him and his family that the investigation takes place properly.”
Gandhi said Kovind had given the delegation a positive response. “We just want to have a proper investigation done by an independent structure that gives us the outcome,” he added.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said judge Loya’s sister had claimed that Loya was offered a bribe of Rs 100 crore to give a favourable judgment in the case by the then chief justice of the Bombay High Court, Mohit Shah. “An FIR should have been filed in 2014 itself when the allegations were made because it is mandatory under the law, but till date there is no FIR,” Sibal said.
Sibal said they had asked for an independent investigation into Loya’s death by a Supreme Court-monitored team because they did not trust the Central Bureau of Investigation or the National Investigation Agency.
In the Supreme Court
A Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanvilkar and DY Chandrachud, heard petitions that demanded an independent investigation monitored by the Supreme Court into Loya’s death on Friday.
Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state of Maharashtra, alleged that the petitioners who had moved the Supreme Court demanding an investigation had a motive behind it and were wasting the court’s time, India Legal reported. The matter was leading to yellow journalism, Rohatgi said.
Indira Jaising, counsel for the petitioners, argued that neither a First Information Report nor any other report concluding the investigation was filed in the matter after the judge’s death. Criminal Procedure Code 174 was violated in the way Loya’s death was handled, Jaising said.
Rohatgi told the bench that the four judges who were with Loya at the time of his death have said that he had died a premature but natural death. “Either you [the Supreme Court] say they are all lying or you dismiss this case today,” Rohatgi told the court.
The bench will next hear the matter on February 12.
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.