Judge Loya’s death needs to be probed for restoring democratic norms in Judiciary

Under the Constitution, the final interpreter of the law is the court, nor the legislature or the executive.Judicial independence is, therefore, central to democracy because it is the judiciary which helps the realisation of the Rule of Law and protection of human rights.
Judge Loya

A series of disclosures and conflicting versions regarding the mysterious death of CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya has stressed the Congress party to demand a Supreme Court-monitored probe by a special investigation team (SIT), saying democracy cannot survive in a nation where lawyers and judges involved in the high profile cases are targeted.

Questioning the intention of the BJP for opposing the investigation of Loya’s death, the Congress party warned that in absence of a proper investigation, they would “go to every village and tell them that injustice is being meted out”under the Modi government.

The Congress stated that the SIT should not have officers from the CBI and the NIA.The controversy over the Judge BH Loya’s death grabbed countrywide attention as he died on December 1,2014 in Nagpur when he was presiding over the special CBI court in Mumbai that was hearing the 2005 case involving the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which the then Gujarat home minister and current BJP President Amit Shah, was the prime accused.

The Supreme Court is already hearing petitions that demand an independent investigation into the judge’s death after several members of the judge’s family raised questions.

Moreover, former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ramdas and the Youth Bar Association of India (YBAI) have filed Intervention Applications before the Supreme Court seeking independent probe into the case.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal alleged that “democracy is in danger” and judges, lawyers and even media personnel were not safe these days. He also questioned why the Bombay High Court did not lodge an FIR following Loya’s death.

“Loya Sahab was upset… His security was withdrawn… We do not even know how Mr Loya reached Nagpur,” Sibal said, echoing concerns cited by judge Loya’s sister.

The Congress also raised questions about the death of lawyer activist Shrikant Khandalkar, whose body was found in suspicious circumstances behind a courthouse in Nagpur two years ago. “Khandalkar Sahab was also getting threats… he was thrown off a building in November 2015,” Sibal said.

Raising more questions, Sibal claimed that the documents relating to Loya’s post mortem were also “manipulated”.

Since the judge was handling the controversial cases and the reluctance of the ruling government to resist the probe raises suspicion regarding the circumstances  which led to his death.Thus the Loya case will become an electoral issue in 2019 Lok Sabha polls as recently four top Supreme Court judges have openly criticising the way in which the judicial appointments are being made and selective distribution of cases is being done in a skewed manner and when they intimated their grievances to the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, he acted in a partisan manner.

In the first ever new conference by sitting judges that will go down in the annals of judicial history,- Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurien Joseph – said that the administration of the Apex court ” is not in order” and the democracy is in danger.

Under the Constitution, the final interpreter of the law is the court, nor the legislature or the executive.Judicial independence is, therefore, central to democracy because it is the judiciary which helps the realisation of the Rule of Law and protection of human rights.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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