The Maharashtra government on Friday urged the Supreme Court not to order an investigation into the death of Central Bureau of Investigation Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, saying it would “destroy the credibility” of the judiciary forever, the Economic Times reported.
“It has been alleged that the entire system is dancing to the tune of one man,” the state government’s counsel Harish Salve said. “If that is true, we might as well wind up the judiciary. Four district-level judges and two High Court judges have stated that they were present with judge Loya when he passed away. Is it being suggested that they are conspirators in the murder?”
The senior lawyer said the top court needs to protect the “subordinate judiciary”. This, he added, was not an environmental case where an inquiry might be ordered. “Please, do not allow this to happen.”
At the time of his death on December 1, 2014, Judge Loya was handling the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case, in which Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah was an accused.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan made his submissions on behalf of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Live Law reported. Bhushan cited a news report from the Caravan magazine – it had first published a report in November 2017 on the mysterious circumstances surrounding Loya’s death – that mentioned the observations of forensic expert Dr RK Sharma.
“Dr Sharma has mentioned signs of possible trauma to the brain and even a possibility of poisoning…he has clearly stated that there is no evidence of a heart attack in the histopathology report,” Bhushan told the court.
He also mentioned that renowned cardiologist Dr Upendra Kaul had said that it was highly unlikely that the judge had suffered a heart attack as suggested by an ECG report that The Indian Express had published on November 27, 2017.
Senior lawyer Indira Jaising also made her submissions in the case on Friday, reiterating the allegations that a number of other senior counsels had made earlier, India Legal reported. “When the patient [Judge Loya] was complaining of chest pain, why was he taken to a hospital where there was no cardiology department?” Jaising asked.
She asked why the four judges, who had been with Judge Loya in his final hours, did not bother to inform the police as Judge Loya had died even before receiving treatment. “I am not saying he was killed but there is a legal procedure which needs to be followed,” Jaising said. “It was under that circumstance the statements were supposed to be recorded. Section 174 has not been followed.”
The lawyer also pointed out a number of discrepancies in the investigation procedure that was followed during the preliminary inquiry. The inquiry report had concluded that there was nothing suspicious about Judge Loya’s death.
Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who is also representing the Maharashtra government in this case, said the Commissioner of state Intelligence’s “discreet inquiry” immediately after the judge’s death had followed the proper procedure, Bar and Bench reported. “It is not that the inquiry was without any proper procedure,” the lawyer said. “It was based on manual. It is not part of statutory framework.”
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, who is representing the Bombay Lawyers’ Association, had raised questions about the inquiry procedure in his final submissions in the case on Thursday. “How did the Commissioner of Intelligence, within minutes of the state government’s order, know who the judicial officers who had accompanied the late Judge Loya were?” Dave had asked. “Clearly his letter to the High Court demonstrates the frivolous nature of the preconceived and predetermined inquiry.”
The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra will resume hearing the case on Monday.