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SC asks Maharashtra government to produce records related to Judge Loya’s death

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(G.N.S) Dt. 16

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to share all the documents relating to the death of Special CBI Judge BH Loya with the petitioners seeking independent probe and adjourned the matter for seven days. Documents were passed on to court in a sealed cover and it, in turn, asks the petitioners to not make the contents public or disclose it in any way.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ensured transparency into the circumstances behind the death of CBI judge B.H. Loya by directing the Maharashtra government to share all documents linked to the death with the public interest litigation (PIL) petitioners.

Judge Loya was hearing the politically sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh police encounter case when he passed away.

“It is a matter which they [petitioners] should know everything,” Justice Arun Mishra, heading the Bench with Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, orally observed in a crowded courtroom.

The order came even as four judges of the Supreme Court went public on January 13 against the selective assignment of the Loya petition by Chief Justice Misra to the Bench led by Justice Mishra.

The press conference was held hardly an hour after Justice Mishra, who heard the Loya PILs, observed in court that the petitions dealt with a “serious matter.”

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave intervened in the hearing on January 13 and asked Justice Mishra’s Bench not to take up the case. He said that his client, the Bombay Lawyers Association, had filed an identical petition in the Bombay High Court, which is already seized of the issue. He asked the apex court not to entertain the petitions filed here.

But Justice Mishra’s Bench went ahead to ask the Maharashtra government to produce the records on January 16. “We have given the court all the appropriate documents,” senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for Maharashtra, told journalists.

The documents were passed on to the court in a sealed cover and the court, in turn, asked the petitioners, to not make the contents public or disclose it in any way.

The apex court is hearing petitions filed by Maharashtra-based journalist B.R. Lone for a probe into Loya’s death on December 1, 2014. Another petition has also been filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala on the same issue.

The issue came under the spotlight in November last after media reports quoting his sister fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding his death and its link to the Sohrabuddin case.

Mr. Poonawala, in his plea, said the circumstances revolving around the death of the judge were “questionable, mysterious and contradicting”.

The plea filed by the journalist submitted that a fair probe was needed into the ”mysterious” death of Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin encounter case in which various police officers and BJP president Amit Shah were named as parties.

As Salve appearing for Maharashtra government told the court to have a look at the documents that were in a sealed cover, Justice Mishra said “Exchange the copy with them (petitioners). And we adjourn the matter for seven days.”

As Salve said that he had himself not seen the documents sent by Maharashtra government, the bench told him to go through the documents and if he finds some are sensitive, then he can hold them back.

Justice Mishra said, “Unless there is something, there should not be any confidentiality. Normally there should not be any objection in sharing the documents.”

Salve said that he has a spare copy which he can share with senior counsel Pallav Sisodia – appearing for the petitioner – but he should keep it to himself.

The death of Judge Loya has raised a storm as presiding over the special CBI court he held the trial in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah is one of the accused. Shah was later discharged in the case.

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