Justice Loya death: CJI Dipak Misra's bench to hear case on Monday

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

Congress on Saturday welcomed Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra's decision to hear the case about the death of CBI judge Justice B.H. Loya.

The bench said it would look into the matter only after the court Registry took the petition on record and listed it for hearing.

The bench of Justice Zinat Ara and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo passed the deferment order after Attorney General Mahbubey Alam sought one week's time for taking preparation to place arguments on the petition. Justice Ranjan Gogoi had responded affirmatively to a question asked by media if the discontent of the four judges was related to the handling of Judge Loya's death case.

It had left it to the Maharashtra government to decide which documents, relating to Loya's death, could be handed over to the petitioners. The bench had directed the Maharashtra government, which submitted details on the case in a sealed envelope, to make its contents public to the petitioners as it is "a matter where they should see everything".

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That recusal came after four of the most senior SC judges alleged that the Chief Justice was arbitrarily assigning important cases to select benches headed by junior SC judges. "Put up before the appropriate bench".

The stunning press conference and the charge that senior judges were being discriminated against, which initially evoked disbelief and was frowned upon by judges, has served as a catalyst for the CJI to fast-track a process of introduction of reforms in administration of the apex court, mainly to devise a mechanism for transparent assignment of cases to benches.

The two public interest litigations (PILs) demand an independent probe into the death of special CBI judge BH Loya. Though authorities declared it as death due to heart attack, doubts were expressed on his sudden death by his family members, including his sister, who said neither the judge nor anybody in the family had history of heart ailments and she became suspicious on the authorities hiding his post mortem report and the treatment given to him.

In his plea, he had claimed that circumstances revolving around the death of the judge were "questionable, mysterious and contradicting". Shah was subsequently discharged from the case.

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