Justice Loya death case: Why didn’t four judges accompanying Loya report death to police?

New Delhi: Senior advocate Indira Jaising and advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court on Friday that there is suspicion over the sudden death of Mumbai’s special CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 from the actions of the four judges accompanying him at the time of his death.

The hearing remained inconclusive when Mukul Rohatgi representing the Maharashtra government was on his feet and the three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra fixed further hearing on Monday. Jaising also pleaded for an independent investigation to ascertain the cause of Judge Loya’s death since he was handling the Sohrabuddin fake encounter killing at the time of his death in the case in which BJP president Amit Shah was later discharged as an accused.

Pointing out that four colleagues, all of them judges, had taken Loya to hospital, but they did not inform police about his death while the medico-legal protocol requires recording of their statements. “If a person dies in your custody, aren’t you supposed to call and inform the police… I am not saying that he was killed but there is a legal procedure that needs to be followed. Section 174 was not followed,” Jaising said.

Noting that the four judges were eyewitnesses to the death of Judge  Loya, she said that they recorded statements three years after the death in 2017 and asserted that there were several discrepancies in the probe procedure followed by police. Rohatgi, who was reprimanded by the Bench for interrupting Jaising, rebutted her contention on the judges not informing police on Judge Loya’s death immediately. “If your friend or relative dies an unnatural death, it is not mandatory to file an FIR. None of the judges realised that it was a crime.”

He also justified the “discreet” inquiry ordered by the state government as per the vigilance manual to probe the matter in a quiet manner outside the public domain. Rohatgi insisted that unnecessary confusion over the death has been raised because of an article in a magazine that has no circulation and no credibility.

“The death occurs in November-December 2014. The family knew it, the entire judiciary knew it and none raised the issue of suspicion. No one raised a finger then,” he said, urging the Court that there is no logic for demanding a probe after four years just because a magazine (Caravan) raises suspicion.

Jaising also pointed out discrepancies in the state government furnishing a statement of the owner of the hospital where Judge Loya was carried and not that of the person who must have recorded his ECG.

She also contested the post-mortem report, asserting that it is not substantiated by the doctor who must have carried out the post-mortem.  “In all the voluminous documents submitted before the court, none contain statements of the doctors,” Jaising said while demanding that an expert panel of doctors be empanelled while ordering the investigation to scrutinise the documents and records. Prashant Bhushan noted that neither investigation procedures nor inquiry procedures were followed. Another counsel urged the Court backed Jaising’s argument, pointing out that when a person dies a suspicious death suddenly, statements of the last persons present at the scene are supposed to be recorded.

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