Justice Loya death case: Independent probe to ascertain the exact cause of the death, says Prashant Bhushan

New Delhi: The Centre for Public Interest Litigation’s counsel Prashant Bhushan on Thursday asserted in the Supreme Court that Special Mumbai CBI court judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya had not died of heart attack as claimed by the Maharashtra Government.

Arguing as an intervener in the PILs being heard by a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, he said the state government deliberately did not file the histopathology and ECG reports as they would have nailed its lie. He could argue only briefly before the court rose to hear him further on Friday.

He told the court that he has procured these reports and got examined by the forensic and cardiology experts who also rule out the heart attack as cause of the judge’s death in Nagpur in December 2014. Endorsing the PILs seeking an independent probe to ascertain the exact cause of the death, Bhushan said doubts also arose from the way a fabricated ECG of the judge was planted in the Indian Express on November 27 to discredit a report in the Caravan magazine, raising many questions on his death.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Dushyant Dave concluded his arguments on behalf of the Bombay Lawyers Association, tearing to pieces an inquiry report of the intelligence commissioner submitted by the state government to refute allegations appearing in the Caravan magazine. He said this discreet inquiry ordered by the state government raises doubts on the motive as it was

clearly an attempt to pre-empt any independent inquiry by the Court. If the PILs are rejected by the Court, the state would have achieved the purpose, he said. Dave pointed out that the state government dubbed the Caravan article as “completely bereft of facts and truth” before the court but then submitted the report of the discreet inquiry it got conducted by the state intelligence commissioner.

Urging the Court to throw the report in the dustbin, he pointed out many discrepancies in it as some of the statements were recorded even before the initiation of the inquiry. Dave referred to the statement of district judge Rupesh Rathi on November 23 whereas the report says the commissioner handed over a letter to him only on that very day. It questions genuineness of the statement, he asserted. There were heated exchanges between him and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi who intervened to assert that “all this is absurd as under the guise of PIL based on some yellow article, a person is being attacked.”

Dave shot back to know whether it is not absurd that the new judge giving discharge (to BJP chief Amit Shah) within 10 days after Judge Loya’s death. When Rohatgi retorted that the Caravan article appeared after three years, Dave said: “Yes it appeared in 2017, but the discharge happened in 2014 and why the CBI did not appeal against it.”

When Rohatgi underlined that the Supreme Court had already dismissed a petition three months before the magazine article, Dave said: “That was Harsh Mandar’s appeal. The SC dismissed that appeal for want of locus. Fact remains that CBI never appealed against the discharge.” Referring to the interviews given by two High Court judges to the media and the striking similarity in the four letters of the district judges, Dave said it raised grave suspicion that could be addressed only by ordering an independent probe.

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