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SC trashes plea for SIT probe into Loya's death, triggers more fireworks

Dismissing the petitions, the court said: "There is no doubt and it is clear from the statements of the judicial officers that Loya died of natural causes."

 
New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed petitions seeking a SIT probe into the death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was conducting a trial in the killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh in Gujarat in which now BJP President Amit Shah was an accused.

Holding that there was absolutely no merit in the petitions, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that Judge Loya met a natural death while in Nagpur.

Dismissing the petitions, the court said: "There is no doubt and it is clear from the statements of the judicial officers that Loya died of natural causes."

Three of the judicial officers, the court said, had travelled with Judge Loya by train from Mumbai to Nagpur to attend a wedding reception. They stayed together at Ravi Bhawan, attended the function and during the day they also visited the residences of a few judges.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh was allegedly shot dead in a stage-managed shoot-out. One of the accused was Amit Shah, who was then the Home Minister in Gujarat when the Chief Minister was now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After Loya's death in November 2014, Amit Shah was discharged and the CBI refused to file an appeal against it.

Thursday's Supreme Court ruling did nothing to quieten the political temperatures. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came down heavily on Congress President Rahul Gandhi, saying he should apologise to Shah, the country and the judiciary.

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said all the petitions were politically motivated and were aimed at defaming Amit Shah. "Today, he (Rahul Gandhi) got a befitting reply from the Supreme Court."

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad echoed the sentiment and said Rahul Gandhi should hang his head in shame.

The Congress retorted that Thursday was a "sad letter day" in India's history and reiterated its demand for a fair investigation into Loya's "mysterious death". It listed the chain of events leading to his death.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist demanded that the case be heard by a larger bench and described as "unfortunate" the apex court's rejection of demands for an independent probe into Loya's death.

The judgment pronounced by Justice Chandrachud took exception to the way the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed and insinuations were made against the committee of administrators of the Bombay High Court and the judges of the Supreme Court in the course of the hearing.

But the court said it was not initiating civil contempt against the petitioner for scandalising the judiciary. It pulled up the petitioners for making unfounded allegations against the judicial officers which were extraneous to the issue.

"The PIL was misused with a political agenda that one man was behind everything. It is a matter of serious concern when court is faced with frivolous PILs and several genuine cases involving personal liberty of under-privileged are pending.

"It is a travesty of justice in the guise of demanding independence of judiciary as if there is a great danger to this institution," the court said.

"It gives a sense of anguish that the proceedings were converted to scandalise the judiciary bordering on contempt," the court said.


IANS

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