New Delhi: The Supreme Court hearing on the plea seeking independent probe into the death of Special CBI court judge B.M.Loya turned acrimonious on Monday with lawyers for the petitioners exchanging barbs after one of the petitioners seeking a probe appeared to be diluting his stand.
The heated exchanges between two senior counsel Dushyant Dave and Pallav Sisodia erupted after Dave accused the latter of “sabotage”.
While Dave is appearing for Bombay Lawyers Association, Sisodia is appearing for Maharashtra based journalist Bandhurj Samghaji Lone. Both had moved the top court seeking independent probe into the death of Judge Loya, who was presiding over the special CBI court holding trial into Sohrabuddin Shaikh staged shoot out case in which BJP president Amit Shah was one of the accused, but later discharged.
Asking the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M.Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud to pass “appropriate orders” including about “accountability of persons responsible”, Sisodia, in his two page note said: “…an independent probe can’t be one way traffic in which persons making allegations can just ‘hit and run’ without any responsibility to damages caused to the reputation, prestige and faith in institutions” including the top court and judiciary as a whole.
Dave, who had concluded his arguments on last Friday, described the position articulated by Sisodia on behalf of his client as “sabotage”.
At this Sisodia, who was sitting close to Dave, got up and said: “You can go to hell or heaven or anywhere… we don’t care.”
An agitated Dave retorted that they may not care but he will continue to raise the issue and targeted senior counsel Harish Salve saying that he had appeared for Amit Shah and was now appearing for Maharashtra government and is protecting Shah.
Sisodia responded, saying Amit Shah was “capable of protecting himself”.
Trying to restore calm, Justice Chandrachud said: “You can’t shout. You have to listen when the judge is speaking. You shall not shout me down.”
As Dave said: “I will not listen to you”, the judge snapped back: “Then we will not listen to you.”
“Please don’t reduce the level of dialogue in the court to the level of fish market,” Justice Chandrachud said, pointing to the portrait of two former CJIs – Harilal J. Kania and Bijan Kumar Mukherjea in the court room.
Recalling his days as junior lawyer when he appeared in the top court and the level of discourse in the court was dignified and of certain level, he said that now it has “denigrated so much that it is becoming oppressive”.
Dave then said he was “begging the court to see what is happening” and urged the judges to listen to their conscience.
“Please don’t remind us of our conscience,” replied Justice Chandrachud, adding: “We know how to listen to our conscience.”
Sisodia too got his share of disapproval from the bench when the judge said: “You should not have used those words. Courtesy begets courtesy.”
Salve, who has been on the receiving end of Dave since the beginning of the hearing, however added: “Sometimes courtesy does not beget courtesy.”
Earlier arguing for a petitioner, senior counsel V. Giri pointed to the discrepancies in the documents submitted by Maharashtra government relating to judge Loya’s case.
He said that the statements of 16 people have not been recorded and it gives enough reasons to arouse suspicion.
“I need not present a prima facie case. Threshold is a strong suspicion causing alert that it warrants an investigation,” Giri said concluding his arguments.
In the course of the hearing, Dave sought the court’s permission to file an application seeking to cross-examine the people named in the documents relating to the death of Judge Loya.
He also sought the nod of the court to file a video recording of the statements of Loya’s father and sister, which he said were at variance with the one submitted by police.
Senior counsel India Jaising told the court in the register maintained at Ravi Bhawan where judge Loya had stayed did not have his name or that of other two judges. She also wondered how can three judges stay in a room which was meant for two only, and when other rooms were available in the guest house.