Death of CBI Judge Brijgopal Loya: PIL filed in Bombay HC seeking independent investigation

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking constitution of a Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to investigate the death of former CBI judge presiding over the Sohrabuddin trial, Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya.

The news reports done by the Caravan published on 20th and 21st November, 2017, raised several questions raised by the family with regard to the death of the 48-year-old CBI Judge in Mumbai, Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge who was hearing the alleged encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2005.

The petitioners, Bombay Lawyers’ Association, have primarily relied on The Caravan’s reports and relied on the information shared in these reports by the family. On December 1st, 2014, the family of Judge Loya was informed that he had died of a heart attack in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend a colleague’s daughter’s wedding. In an article published in the Caravan on 21st November, 2017, Anuradha Biyani, sister of Judge Loya, states that Judge Loya confided to her that Mohit Shah, then the chief justice of the Bombay High Court, had offered him a bribe of Rs 100 crore in return for a favourable judgment.

This is the second PIL filed at the Bombay High Court seeking an investigation into judge Loya’s death, the first one was filed at the Nagpur bench.

The Latur Bar Association passed a resolution on 25 November, 2017, calling for an investigation into the “suspicious circumstances” of Loya’s death. Apart from this, around 470 members of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar have written to the CJI seeking a probe into the late judge’s death. Retired judges of high courts like Justice AP Shah, Justice BH Marlapalle, Justice BG Kolse Patil, even former Supreme Court judge (retd) Justice PB Sawant have sought some sort of a probe into the matter in light of the Caravan report.

Following the publishing of the two articles in the Caravan, Indian Express published an article on November 27th, 2017, which refuted some of the claims of the Caravan article based on the accounts of two judges of the Bombay High Court, Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Sunil Shukre, who claim of have gone to the hospital that day and made arrangements for the transport of the body. They also spoke to other family members of Judge Loya including his sister and paternal uncle who hadn’t been involved in the Caravan story. NDTV, relying on similar sources published articles refuting the family’s claims made in the Caravan article.

There have been inconsistencies in the series of events that played out the night of 30th November, 2014, which have been reported by these news agencies. The Caravan has published a follow-up article further refuting the claims made by the Justices who have been quoted in the Indian Express and NDTV, stating that they were not present with Judge Loya when he was taken to the hospital, but they had arrived later once he was admitted.

These inconsistencies only re-establish the urgent need of an independent investigation required into the matter. There are several questions that have still been left unanswered which have shaken up the legal fraternity from the core and closure can be achieved only once such investigation comes up with answers.