SC verdict in Loya case , “utterly wrong”, observes former CJ of HC

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Justice AP Shah, former Delhi High court Chief Justice and chairman of Law Commission of India at the Indian Express idea exchange in New Delhi on Dec 19th 2013. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

Judge Loya’s case in which the Supreme Court bench rejected a bunch of pleas to conduct a probe into the mysterious circumstances that led to his death when he was in Nagpur attending the marriage of his friend’s kin in December 2014 created ripples in political and judicial circles. The crux of the matter was that the Judge was hearing the case of fake encounter of Surabuddin Shaik and in this case Amit Shah was one of the accused. The judge who succeeded Loya set Amit Shah free within one month. This is a crucial point that gave the death of the Judge paramount importance. The demise was hush-hushed as natural death, however, when his daughter expressed her doubts before a journalist the matter came to light in a journal. Then there was an outcry from many quarters to conduct a demand into the circumstances under which the judge breathed his last. The petitioners approached the Bombay High Court as well as the Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction wise, the Supreme Court should have referred the petitions to the High Court. Meanwhile in the unexpected turn of events, four senior most SC judges addressed a press conference and expressed their grievances about the functioning of the CJI. One of the issues was that the Loya’s case was referred to a junior judge. Then the case was heard by a bench headed by the CJI. At one stage, CJI Dipak Misra observed that the case was serious.

When the judgment was delivered, the bench said there was nothing to doubt the statement of the four judges who had accompanied Judge Loya. They affirmed that the death was natural. If their statement was to be believed why was the case not dismissed at the stage of admission? The bench said the petitioners assaulted the dignity of the court.

Against this background, it is interesting to note that a former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice A P Shah said the Supreme Court judgment was, “utterly wrong and jurisprudentially incorrect.” On May 1, he was speaking at the release function of a book, ‘Anita Gets Bail’ written on the Loya’s case by Arun Shourie, a journalist and former Union Minister. Justice Shah summarized the book and also analysed the SC judgment and disputed the 3-judge bench verdict. This is yet another opposing opinion on the functioning of the Supreme Court.

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