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Judge Loya’s death: SC rejects petitions for independent probe, calls them ‘veiled attempt on judiciary’

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

Loya had allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said attempts were made to scandalise the judiciary by levelling serious allegations against judicial officers and judges of the Bombay High Court.

There is no reason to doubt statements of four judges on circumstances leading to the death of Loya and the documents placed on record and their scrutiny establishes that Loya’s death was due to natural cause, the bench said.

Announcing the order, the top court said that the petitions were a “veiled attempt to launch a frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary” and that “there is no reason to doubt the statements of sitting Judge.” The bench also said that the “petitioners’ conduct prima-facie constitutes criminal contempt,” but the court “would spare them of any contempt action.”

The top court said that with these petitions it becomes clear that a real attempt and a frontal attack was made on the independence of the judiciary.

The apex court said frivolous and motivated litigation has been filed to settle political rivalry.

The issue of Loya’s death had come under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister had fuelled suspicion about circumstances surrounding it and its link to the Sohrabuddin case. But Loya’s son had on January 14 said in Mumbai that his father had died of natural causes.

In the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, BJP President Amit Shah along with Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, Rajasthan-based businessman Vimal Patni, former Gujarat police chief P C Pande, Additional Director General of Police Geeta Johri and Gujarat police officers Abhay Chudasama and N K Amin have already been discharged.

Several accused, including police personnel, are currently facing trial for their involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat in November 2005. The case was later transferred to the CBI and the trial shifted to Mumbai.

A batch of pleas, including those filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala and Maharashtra-based B S Lone, was filed in the top court seeking an independent probe into Loya’s death in 2014.

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