But Nagpur police insists that its investigation had concluded the death of the judge was natural and it stands by that conclusion.
Mumbai: Family members of the late special CBI judge B.H. Loya said Thursday’s Supreme Court decision rejecting the demand for an independent investigation into his death had extinguished their hopes of closure and “everything seemed managed”.
But a top Maharashtra police officer reiterated that investigations had found Loya’s death in December 2014 to be natural, caused by a cardiac arrest.
“The judgment is not as per our expectations. There are a number of unanswered questions,” said Srinivas Loya, the uncle of the judge.
“It would have been much better if there was an independent probe. But we don’t have any expectation from anyone any more about this. Everything seems managed. The media and opposition parties have been taking the issue up, but nothing seems to be coming of it,” he told ThePrint by phone from Latur.
Anuradha Biyani, the sister of the judge, echoed that sentiment.
“Kya bolun ab (What should I say)?” said Biyani. “Jo ek vishwas tha woh bhi ab nahi hain. Kuch bolne ke jaisa rakha hi nahi hain chaar saal se ab kisi ne. (There is no hope left. For the past four years, we have been left with nothing to say).”
Judge Loya was conducting the trial into the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shiekh, in which BJP chief Amit Shah was an accused, when he died on 1 December 2014, while in Nagpur for the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.
After Loya’s death, judge M.B. Gosavi took over the trial. Shah and several other key accused were subsequently discharged, a month after Loya’s death.
Last year, Biyani, a government doctor based in Dhule, had alleged in an interview with Caravan magazine that her brother “was under immense pressure to give a favourable verdict in the case”. Biyani, along with father Harikishan Loya and sister Sarita Mandhane, a teacher in Aurangabad, had also raised suspicions about Loya’s death.
The report triggered a row, with subsequent media coverage pointing to alleged discrepancies in the probe conducted by Maharashtra police, hinting at a possible cover-up.
Loya’s immediate family went under the radar for weeks after the Caravan report. While his parents left their family home in Latur district, his sisters and son Anuj switched off their phones.
However, with the controversy refusing to die down, Anuj eventually held a press conference in Mumbai where he said the family had no suspicions regarding his father’s death. The doubts other family members had earlier, had been cleared, he added. Approached by ThePrint, Biyani had refused to comment on the issue at the time.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court dismissed the PILs filed by five petitioners seeking an independent probe into Loya’s death, saying it had found no reason to doubt the statements made by the judges accompanying Loya at the time of his death. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud also questioned the credibility of the petitioners. Anuj was unavailable for comment after the verdict.
‘No comment on suspicions’
Nagpur police has insisted the judge’s death was natural and joint commissioner of police Shivaji Bodhke reiterated that on Thursday.
“From our point of view, the investigation concludes that it was a natural death due to a cardiac arrest. I cannot comment on why any other person raised suspicions,” Bodhke told ThePrint by phone.
In November, ThePrint had reported that the Sadar police station at Nagpur, under whose jurisdiction Loya died, could not close the file on his death as his family had not given a statement and the probe was incomplete without it. The police station had subsequently begun re-verifying case details, procuring hospital documents and recording fresh statements.
Bodhke, however, said a statement from Loya’s immediate family, based in Latur, was not necessarily required. “The evidence necessary…under the circumstances was collected and presented to the court. All that was needed to declare the cause of death was recorded.”
“…It becomes necessary to take the statements of relatives far from the place of incident only when the reason of death is not clear. In this case, it was,” Bodhke said.
Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments