Ask Maharashtra to state position on Judge Loya probe, lawyers body urges SC

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New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The Bombay Lawyers Association (BLA) on Monday urged the Supreme Court to direct the Maharashtra government to make its position clear through an affidavit vis-a-vis an independent probe into Judge B.M. Loya’s death in 2014.

Judge Loya was presiding over a Special CBI court conducting the trial in the staged shootout killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his aide Tusliram Prajapati.

“I don’t know why the court is reluctant to issue notice and ask the state (Maharashtra) to make its stand (clear) on affidavit,” senior counsel Dushyant Dave told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud while pointing out that the procedure being followed by it was flawed.

As Dave defended the role of his client BLA, the bench said: “We have not questioned the bona fides of the Bombay Lawyers Association.”

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“We give (the matter) the highest amount of seriousness. We treat it as a cause,” the court said, adding that it did not care what was being said outside and it would do its duty if anything raised suspicions.

Dave said that the four judges who have given statements that Judge Loya met a natural end be asked to do so on sworn affidavits.

Describing the procedure followed by the top court while hearing a public interest litigation that seeks an independent probe into Judge Loya’s death on December 1, 2014, as an “unhealthy practice”, Dave said: ” If a person is holding a high position, his words have to be accepted. This is not the way, this is not the law.”

Responding to the Maharashtra government’s contention attributing “motives” to everything starting with an article in Caravan magazine and PILs filed thereafter, the senior counsel said the petitioner did not have “political motives” or “personal interest” in the matter.

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“This cause is not political,” Dave said after the Maharashtra counsel said all this was because of a man “who is seen behind everything”, apparently referring to Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah.

Maharashtra government’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi said the Caravan article appeared after the dismissal of a plea that challenged the discharge of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout case.

“After the discharge of somebody (Amit Shah) in 2015, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court (challenging the discharge) which was dismissed. Then this article was published in Caravan deliberately.

“The article appeared in November 2017. Why did the petitions filed after the article appeared? The article was preceded by the dismissal (of appeal)”

A former bureaucrat and social activist Harsh Mander had challenged the discharge of Shah by a trial court and the same was dismissed on August 1, 2016.

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Dave told the apex court on Monday that while the court was seized of the matter, a statutory body (Bar Council of India) is issuing a notice to him on his alleged role in the Judge Loya matter.

“In respect of an ongoing matter before the Supreme Court, a notice is being issued by a statutory body,” he said and urged the court to take judicial notice of the development.

Senior counsel Pallav Sisodia, appearing for another PIL petitioner and Maharashtra-based journalist Bandhuraj Sambhaji Lone, said Dave was trying to bring pressure on him to withdraw from the case. He referred to an article written by Dave, pointing fingers at him.

–IANS

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