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Civil society members seek probe into mysterious death of CBI judge in Amit Shah case

Anurag Dey | Updated on: 22 November 2017, 21:46 IST

Following startling revelations surrounding the mysterious death of CBI judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in which BJP chief Amit Shah was the prime accused, civil society members have demanded a high-level judicial probe.

Loya died during the intervening night of 30 November and 1 December 2014 while he was on a visit to Nagpur. Within a month of his death, Shah was discharged by the CBI court.

In articles and a video testimonial published by The Caravan, family members have come out with shocking details about the mysterious death of the 48-year-old judge including a bribe offer of Rs 100 crore in return for a favourable judgment made by a top judge.

Loya’s father, Harkishan, sister Anuradha Biyani and niece Nupur Balaprasad have given detailed account of the circumstances leading to his sudden death from a “cardiac arrest”.

In a media conference, social activists Syeda Hameed, Shabnam Hashmi and Caravan political editor Hartosh Singh Bal, among others, said the entire incident, including the allegation of a bribe offer from a judge, was a big question mark on the judiciary. They say only a judicial probe can provide the answers.

“As regard the timing of the story, it has nothing to do with the Gujarat elections or any elections for that matter. Every three months, we have elections and BJP contests all of them. So any anti-BJP story will be termed as politically motivated,” says Bal.

“From the timing of the death to the sudden conduct of post mortem without any information to the family to the handing of his body to a man unknown to the family there are many disturbing questions which raise suspicion about his death," he said.

Unanswered questions

Based on the media reports, civil society members pointed out the various inconsistencies and unanswered questions:

- Different versions of the time of death given in the post-mortem report and telephonic information given to the family.

- Information to the family was given only after the post mortem was conducted and not immediately after he was taken ill and taken to a hospital.

-Loya was only 48-years-old with no history of any heart ailment.

- Loya, as a CBI judge, was put up in a VIP guest house but was taken to an obscure private hospital in an in an auto rickshaw, None of his security guards accompanied him.

- If the death was due to cardiac arrest, why was a postmortem conducted in such a hurry and without informing the family? Who ordered the post mortem?

- The signature on every page of the post mortem is by a paternal cousin of Loya, but the family says there is no such person.

- Why was Loya's phone wiped before being handed over to his family?

- The presence of blood on his clothes as observed by Loya’s sister. The post mortem report asserted otherwise. According to Loya’s sister, there was blood on his collar, his belt was twisted in the opposite direction and the pant clip was broken.

- The role played by Ishwar Baheti, an RSS worker who informed the family about Loya’s death and later delivered his phone to them.

- Sending Loya’s body to his village unaccompanied by anyone but the ambulance driver.


A question mark on the judiciary

Speaking on the occasion Hashmi said the entire incident has put a question mark on the judiciary.

“This is not just a case of a mysterious death but also about things that took place prior to his death. The story not just tells about the immense pressure that Loya was in, but also how efforts were being made by none other than a top judge to influence him,” said Hashmi.

The story quotes Loya’s sister Anuradha Biyani and his father who said that Mohit Shah, then the chief justice of the Bombay High Court, had offered him a bribe of Rs 100 crore in return for a favourable judgment.

Speaking on the occasion, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand said it was time the Supreme Court took a proactive stand in the matter.

“Loya’s family demand for a second post mortem was denied and their plea for an inquiry commission to probe Loya’s death, was never accepted. The entire incident casts a deep shadow on the trust that people have on the judiciary. At a time when allegations of judges bribery are making rounds the Supreme Court cannot afford to ignore this anymore. The onus is on it to restore the faith of the people and that can be done only through a judicial probe,” he said.

The activists also said that might approach the Supreme Court with a public interest litigation with their plea for a judicial probe.

First published: 22 November 2017, 21:46 IST