Home Minister Amit Shah looks at the 'Hindi Divas Samaroh' in New Delhi, September | PTI
Home Minister Amit Shah looks at the 'Hindi Divas Samaroh' in New Delhi, September | PTI
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Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said last week that if new evidence is presented, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government could consider reinvestigating the mysterious death of Judge B.H. Loya. The special CBI court judge was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which present Union Home Minister Amit Shah was an accused.

It might help an audacious Shiv Sena score a few points against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. But any hurried move by the Uddhav Thackeray government to revive the controversial Judge Loya case can boomerang – politically and legally.

But minister Deshmukh isn’t the first one to hint at reopening Judge Loya case. Before him, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had also said the case could be re-investigated if there was a “fresh complaint and it has substantial evidence”.

Many, including the family members of Judge Loya, have suspected foul play in his death, reportedly from a heart attack on 1 December 2014, and sought an impartial inquiry.

So, should the case be investigated thoroughly? Yes. But there are several impediments that could hinder the Maharashtra government’s consideration from turning into something transformative.


Also read: 3 Bombay HC judges recuse themselves from case related to Judge Loya’s death


Supreme Court’s clear stand

In April 2018, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising then-Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud had dismissed several PILs seeking an independent probe into Judge Loya’s death in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend the wedding ceremony of a colleague’s daughter.

The bench had primarily ruled on the basis of the statements of four senior judicial officers, who had told the officer conducting a discreet inquiry ordered by the Maharashtra Home Department that Judge Loya had “suffered a heart attack in the presence of his colleagues belonging to the judicial fraternity”. The four officers had further said that “they had made all possible efforts to provide medical assistance to save him” and that he “died as a result of natural causes”.

In their judgment, the Supreme Court judges had said there was no reason to doubt the statements of the four witnesses.

Most importantly, while transferring the case to the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court said that “in so far as the circumstances relating to the death of Judge Loya are concerned, all issues raised in that connection in the present case shall stand governed by the judgment delivered by this Court”, and that issues such as “circumstances relating to the death of Judge Loya which have been dealt with by this Court in the judgment delivered today stands concluded”. And in July 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed review petitions against its judgment.

Therefore, any decision to investigate the matter afresh would have to be based on material evidence that clearly points to foul play. Otherwise, it would only give an opportunity to Amit Shah and his legal team to cry wolf and do everything to stop the probe even before it gathers steam.


Also read: Supreme Court crisis: These are the 16 Values of Judicial Life our judges swore to uphold


Death due to natural causes

In its 19 April 2018 judgment, the Supreme Court, surprisingly, ruled that “documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes”, and that “there is no ground for the court to hold that there was a reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry”. It hardly matters that there were several gaping holes in the judgment. The most significant being that the SC appropriated to itself the powers of a trial court and ruled on the matter on the basis of oral evidence that would have been successfully rebutted by any good lawyer.

Even though there are serious questions that could be asked of the Supreme Court because of the manner in which it decided the case, only one thing matters in the end: it is India’s apex court, and any step that contradicts its decision would have to be based on very firm, legal footing.

Need for a fresh complaint

Even the Maharashtra Home Minister has indicated that any demand to reopen the case would require a fresh complaint with ‘new’ evidence.

In cases like these, the primary locus to file the complaint lies with the immediate family of the alleged victim. Moreover, the ‘evidence’ must be crucial enough to allow a challenge to a judgment delivered by the Supreme Court.

Fresh evidence does mandate further investigation. While reinvestigation is not legally permissible, ‘further investigation’ is. But the test for this would be quite stringent. However, since there was no formal FIR initially, any probe that happens now would be the first formal investigation.

But, any decision to register an FIR will be based on the quality of material submitted along with the complaint. If the police registers a case on the basis of old material, it would be fairly easy for Amit Shah and his legal team to challenge it as ‘amounting to overreaching the judgment of the Supreme Court’.


Also read: Two judges present with Loya when he died are among 6 set to be elevated to Bombay HC


Opportunity for Shah and BJP to play victim

Any shoddy attempt to reopen the case will only give an opportunity to the BJP president to play the victim and accuse the Maharashtra government of doing dirty politics.

This is why the Uddhav Thackerey government must move forward in Judge Loya’s case only after due diligence and thorough legal scrutiny.

Otherwise, the move could hurt the state government and the alliance partners.

The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal.

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13 Comments Share Your Views

13 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t support or MISGUIDE unless you have seen not just by hearing. If Modiji is not there INDIA will become ANOTHER TERRORISTS country. INDIA is already flooded with huge population why we need Infiltrators? People should think about future GENERATIONS and support no Votes by misguiding the innocent people.

  2. It’s simple. This is Sharad Pawar’s way of warning Amit Shah that if he dares to open any cases against Pawar, there can be reopening of cases against him as well. Meanwhile the digging around for leads against Shah may have already begun.

  3. This is another example of Modi/Shah haters not accepting the courts judgement, even the Supreme Court, because it does not fit their conspiracy theory.
    Ex-president Abdul Kalam also died of a sudden heart attack. Why not investigate his death also.

  4. BY framing Amit Shah during his tenure as HM mr. Chidamberam has honour of residing in Tihad jail. Now some other worthy must be contemplating for enjoying the luxuries of Tihad . O.kay Go ahaed. The history has uncanny trait of repeating itself.

  5. I’m very happy that this matter is being considered. In fact, this year 2020 could even see the conviction of Maya Kodnani, Terrorist Pragya Thakur and of course Mukul Roy.

  6. The key word is “hurried”. It should be well planned, not hurried. It is important to re-open the Loya case to investigate the alleged links to the Haren Pandya case. If all that is alleged is true (and multiple journalists have provided proof), it is blood chilling and mind boggling – the culprits must be punished and the possibility of a repeat destroyed. If not true, I for one will worry a little bit less about being forced to live in Shah-Modi rule.

  7. anil deshmukh is a dummy HM and real one is Sharad pawar.so if sharad pawar wants anil deshmukh will definitely do.Anil deshmukh is a non entity who has been given this powerful post so Sharad Pawar remains real HM.

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