Angry Chief Justice, Sparring Lawyers As Top Court Hears Judge Loya Case: 10 Facts
The Judge BH Loya case was one of the main triggers for Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph going public with their criticism of the way cases are assigned by the Chief Justice
Judge BH Loya died of a heart attack in 2014; he was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case
New Delhi, India: Calling it a "serious matter", the Supreme Court today asked for all documents related to the Judge BH Loya case and said it would look into it "in a fair way". The court also took over two related cases from the Bombay High Court. In an hour-long hearing packed with drama, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra lost his temper, a lawyer had to apologise and two lawyers had a high-pitched argument. Chief Justice Misra and two more judges have begun hearing requests for an investigation into Judge Loya's death from a heart attack in 2014, at a time he was hearing a murder case against BJP president Amit Shah.
Here are the top 10 points on the Judge Loya case:
"Let us have full documents, let our conscience not feel that we didn't look at some documents," said Judge DY Chandrachud, who is in the bench headed by Chief Justice Misra. Lawyer Dushyant Dave had said that the Bombay Lawyers' Association, which has filed a case in the High Court, has documents that must be examined.
During arguments, Mr Dave was called out by a judge for his comment that "every institution is trying to protect one man - Amit Shah." Justice Chandrachud said, "If it is natural death as of now, why cast aspersions on a person not before us?"
Judge Loya died on December 1, 2014, while attending a wedding in Nagpur. After his death, a new judge took over the Sohrabuddin case and discharged Amit Shah on grounds that there wasn't enough evidence for a trial.
Two petitions have called for an investigation into the death of 48-year-old Judge Loya after his family raised questions and alleged that there were attempts to bribe him. But two judges who were with Judge Loya in his final hours - and are serving Bombay High Court Judges - said there was no foul play. So did the judge's son Anuj Loya, who told the media that his father's death was being used for politics.
On Friday, Maharashtra submitted documents related to the death of Judge Loya - including post-mortem details and a 50-page intelligence report. The state government represented by senior lawyer Harish Salve, said it was going through the report to see what is safe to put out in the public domain.
An argument broke out when Mr Dave said Mr Salve should stop representing Maharashtra as he had earlier defended Amit Shah. "It is conflict of interest...We have doubts over Maharashtra government documents," said Mr Dave. Mr Salve replied, "I don't want any certificate from Dave."
In a tense moment during the hearing, the Chief Justice ordered senior lawyer Indira Jaising to apologise for inferring a media gag. "Did I utter a single word on a gag? This is not fair to me. You must withdraw unconditionally... I am really hurt," Justice Misra said.
The Loya case was first assigned to Justice Arun Mishra, who is number 10 in the Supreme Court hierarchy. The Chief Justice took over after Justice Arun Mishra last week referred the case to an "appropriate bench".
The Loya case was one of the main triggers for public criticism of the Chief Justice by the four senior most judges after him, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph. The judges, addressing a never-before press conference on January 12, indicated that he was abusing his position as "master of roster" by assigning "cases with far reaching consequences" to junior judges.
Chief Justice Misra reached out to the judges and held discussions twice last week - once in the presence of four other judges. "The ice is melting," said sources about the judges' talks, but there is no formal resolution yet.