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Loya’s Death: SC Rules out Fresh Probe in Sohrabuddin Case,10 points

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and judges A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which dismissed the pleas, said that attempts were made to scandalise the judiciary

Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the mysterious death of special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge B H Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case involving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah.

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

Further, the apex court said that the submissions of the petitioners prima facie amounted to criminal contempt of court but that it was not initiating contempt proceedings.

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

Further, dismissing the pleas for an independent probe, the Bench said there was no reason to doubt the statements of four judges on the circumstances leading to the death of judge Loya.

The apex court said that the documents placed on record and their scrutiny established that the CBI judge’s death was due to a natural cause.

The apex court had earlier asked the Maharashtra government to submit the post-mortem report of the CBI judge, who had died under suspicious circumstances in 2014, citing that the “matter was very serious”.

Maharashtra-based journalist B S Lone and activist Tehseen Poonavala had filed independent pleas seeking a fair probe into the death of Justice Loya.

The issue of Justice Loya’s death had come under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding his demise and its possible links with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

However, Justice 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, 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.

Here are the top 10 developments around the Supreme Court’s verdict on pleas seeking an independent probe into CBI judge B H Loya’s death:

1) SC dismisses pleas seeking fresh probe in judge Loya’s death: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that there would be no independent probe into the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, and dismissed a batch of pleas seeking the same.

2) ‘Attempt made to scandalise judiciary’: The Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and judges A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, which dismissed the pleas, said that attempts were made to scandalise the judiciary by levelling serious allegations against judicial officers and judges of the Bombay High Court.

3) Documents show judge Loya died of natural causes, says SC: The Bench further said that there was no reason to doubt the statements of the four judges on the circumstances leading up to the death of judge Loya, adding that the documents placed on record and their scrutiny established that the special CBI judge’s death was due to natural causes.

4) Frivolous litigation filed to settle political scores, says SC: The Supreme Court said that with these petitions it became clear that a real attempt and a frontal attack was being made on the independence of the judiciary. The apex court also said that a frivolous and motivated litigation had been filed to settle a political score. It also said that political battles should be fought in the “halls of democracy” and not inside court, reported Bar & Bench.

5) SC says petitioners in contempt of court but no action to be taken: The judgment made strong observations against the conduct and submissions of senior counsel Dushyant Dave, V Giri, and advocate Prashant Bhushan, reported Bar & Bench, adding that the Supreme Court stated the submissions of the petitioners prima facie amounted to criminal contempt of court. However, the court said that it was not initiating civil contempt against the petitioners for scandalising the judiciary.

6) ‘Petitioners tried to create aura of good faith at first’: While pronouncing the judgment, Justice Chandrachud said the petitioners had sought to create “an aura of good faith”. However, he went on to say that as the submissions progressed, this attempt “fell apart”, reported Bar & Bench.

7) Mukul Rohatgi says petitions were in ‘personal interest’: Commenting on the Supreme Court’s verdict on Judge Loya’s death, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told news agencies that “these petitioners did not uphold the rule of law”. Rohatgi added, “The main aim was to attack some senior functionaries of the current government. There was no question of foul play. Petition had personal interest, not public interest.”

8) Loya’s death came into the spotlight after media reports in November: Loya had allegedly died of cardiac arrest on December 1, 2014, in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. The issue of Loya’s death had come under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding it and its link to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case. But Loya’s son had on January 14 said in Mumbai that his father had died of natural causes.

9) Maharashtra govt argues petitions aimed at ‘one individual’: The Maharashtra government had argued in the apex court that all pleas seeking an independent probe into judge Loya’s death were motivated and aimed at targeting “one individual” in the guise of upholding the rule of law. It had come down heavily on what it saw as alleged accusations, bullying, and browbeating of judges in the top court by some activist lawyers in the Loya case and said that the judiciary and judicial officers needed to be saved from such averments.

10) Did sequence of events suggest foul play? Those seeking an independent probe into the matter had referred to the sequence of events related to judge Loya’s death to highlight that a fair investigation was needed to rule out any foul play in his demise.

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