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No intention to ‘wish anything away’ as far as Loya death is concerned, says SC

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File  

But, the court does not want to pass bad faith judgments on judges who hold that it was a natural but untimely death, says Justice Chandrachud

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud on Monday said the Supreme Court has no intention to “wish anything away” as far as the death of Judge B.H. Loya is concerned, but at the same time it did not want to pass any “bad faith judgments” on Bombay High Court judges and district courts’ judges for their media interviews and statements that Judge Loya died a natural but untimely death due to heart failure in 2014.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, who heads the three-judge Bench hearing the petitions for an independent probe into the death, said the “slightest suspicion” about the death would lead to ordering of an investigation.

But senior advocate Dushyant Dave, for petitioner Bombay Lawyers Association, asked what prompted the two Bombay High Court judges to give “tell-all” interviews to a newspaper days after the High Court allowed the State government to carry a “discreet enquiry” three years after the death in 2017. The State had swung into action after a magazine article raised suspicions about Judge Loya’s death.

Mr. Dave submitted “why all the judges are in one breath saying Loya died of cardiac arrest. They should instead ask for an investigation. Why is there resistance all around?”

 

“Why is he [Dave] talking about the conduct of high court and district court judges? We are not here to decide that. Either you [SC] order an investigation or dismiss this case,” senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for Maharashtra government, reacted.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in the courtroom, suddenly rose from his seat to object to Mr. Dave’s comments about the judiciary.

“I protest these remarks as an officer of the court,” Mr. Mehta addressed the Bench.

“You are not an officer of the court. You are Amit Shah’s [BJP party national president] lawyer. You have been his lawyer for 15 years,” Mr. Dave countered.

When senior advocate Harish Salve, also for Maharashtra, said it was unfortunate that Mr. Dave was indulging in such “broadside” comments, Mr. Dave retorted saying Mr. Salve too had appeared for Mr. Shah in the past.

“Besides, you have no problems with sitting judges giving interviews. Sitting judges are not holy cows... As a leading light of the Bar, you [Salve] should have actually said that judges should not give interviews,” Mr. Dave shot back at Mr. Salve.

At one point, Mr. Dave even went to the extent of claiming that “he has not seen a situation where an entire judicial service is at the back of one man”. But Justice A.M. Khanwilkar on the Bench took strong exception to this oral comment, saying “this is a very broadside statement. Please do not repeat it”.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court allowed the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, to file an intervention application in the case. The intervention is based on the expert professional opinions of Dr. R. K. Sharma, former head of the Forensic Medicine and Toxicology Department at AIIMS and Dr. Upendra Kaul, former professor of cardiology at AIIMS. These expert opinions are based on the Histopathology report and ECG reports, which, according to Mr. Bhushan, were not filed by the Maharashtra government.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:20:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-intention-to-wish-anything-away-as-far-as-loya-death-is-concerned-says-sc/article22935047.ece

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