The Supreme Court has rejected a petition that sought for a SIT probe into the death of the judge, B H Loya. The court while rejecting the petition that sought for a probe by the Special Investigation Team said that there was an attempt by the petitioners to malign the judiciary.
The case had seen highly charged arguments with allegations and counter allegations being made. The highest decibel argument was however advanced by counsel Dushyant Dave who had argued in favour of a SIT probe while calling the death of the judge suspicious in nature.
The order was passed by a Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra which said that there was already a probe conducted and the death was due to natural causes. In this context a separate probe will not be necessary the court also said.
The court said that the PIL had no truth in it and was an attempt to malign the judiciary. The court said that the judge had died a natural death and there was not a shred of doubt about it.
The court which almost ordered contempt against the petitioners however observed that the judicial process should not be governed by fear of contempt. The judicial process is based on the moral authority of courts.
The court said that petitioners' advocates Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan launched a frontal attack on the judiciary by telling SC to disbelieve three judicial officers who accompanied Loya to Nagpur, stayed with him at a guest house and said Loya died of a heart attack.
The court also said that during the arguments the counsel for to maintain institutional civility towards the judges of the SC and made wild allegations. It would have been ideal to initiate contempt proceedings against the petitioners in such a case where a political rivalry is brought to the court to malign the judiciary. PILs were meant to provide succour to the downtrodden and voiceless, but now have become an industry to settle business and political rivalry, the court also observed. The court also said that the allegations against judges were a "vituperative assault on the judiciary."
The court also observed that these days an avalanche of PILs are being filed to settle business and political scores and the judiciary is unnecessarily made to spend precious time looking into such PILs which leads to delay in giving justice in other cases.
The court further said that the PIL was a misuse of both judicial process and time. There is absolutely no merit in the allegations that Loya's death was suspicious. The statements of the judicial officers who accompany him are clear and satisfactory.
The Maharashtra government had argued in the court that all pleas seeking an independent probe into Loya's death were motivated and aimed at targeting "one individual" in the guise of upholding the rule of law.
It had come down heavily on alleged accusations, bullying and browbeating of judges in the top court by some activist lawyers in the Loya case and said that the judiciary and judicial officers need to be saved from such averments.
Meanwhile, those seeking an independent probe into the matter had referred to the sequence of events to highlight that a fair investigation was needed to rule out any foul play in the death.
The issue of Loya's death had come under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister had fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding it and its link to the Sohrabuddin case. But Loya's son had on January 14 said in Mumbai that his father had died of natural causes.
In the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah along with Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, Rajasthan-based businessman Vimal Patni, former Gujarat police chief P C Pande, Additional Director General of Police Geeta Johri and Gujarat police officers Abhay Chudasama and N K Amin have already been discharged.
Several accused, including police personnel, are currently facing trial for their involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat in November 2005. The case was later transferred to CBI and the trial shifted to Mumbai.
A batch of pleas, including those filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala and Maharashtra-based B S Lone, was filed in the top court seeking an independent probe into Loya's death in 2014.
Four senior-most apex court judges -- Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- at their January 12 press conference had questioned the manner in which sensitive cases were being allocated and Loya's case was one of them.