The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed petitions seeking an independent inquiry into the death of Special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, Live Law reported. “There is absolutely no merit in the writ petitions, Judge Loya’s death was natural,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The court said there was no reason to disbelieve the judicial officers who were present with Loya at the time of his death. It accused the petitioners of trying to “malign the judiciary” and called the petitions “scandalous and amount to criminal contempt”. However, the court said it was not taking contempt action, according to Bar and Bench.

The petitioners cast aspersions on the administrative committee of the High Court and “even judges of this court were not spared”, the court said. “An aura of good faith was sought to be created by the petitioners but as submissions progressed it fell apart,” the bench said, adding that PILs were being misused to “settle political scores”.

The Maharashtra government had argued before the Supreme Court that the demand for an inquiry into Loya’s death was not to protect the integrity of the judiciary, but to “keep the pot boiling” by “targeting one individual”, a reference to Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah. The petitioners, however, had argued that since the very independence of the judiciary was at stake, a thorough investigation was necessary.

What is the Loya case?

At the time of his death on December 1, 2014, Loya was handling the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, in which Shah was an accused. He was later discharged in the case.

Suspicions were raised on whether Loya’s death was natural after The Caravan published a report in November 2017, in which members of the judge’s family raised a number of questions around the circumstances of his death and said that he had been under pressure at the time.

In the last five months, The Caravan has published nearly two dozen reports, many of which have pointed to inconsistencies in the official record of Loya’s death. This includes the conclusions made by the doctors involved in the case, statements from the judge’s family that he had been under pressure to deliver a “favourable judgment” in the Sohrabuddin case and threats to those asking questions about the Loya case.

The matter was also picked up by the Opposition, which demanded an impartial inquiry into Loya’s death. The case is even said to be one of the reasons Justice Chelameshwar and three other senior Supreme Court judges held an unprecedented press conference in January, raising questions about the conduct of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

For more on the Loya case, here are seven articles that take a close look at all that has happened.