The day when Justice Chelameshwar held a press conference with four other judges of the Supreme Court, only to disclose that there was something very seriously wrong with the apex court, it had taken the power corridors in New Delhi and elsewhere by surprise.
The author had posted an article stating how devastating to the democracy was the move. Nothing seemed to have bothered Justice Chelameshwar from giving further controversial remarks against the post-retirement postings taken by judges, but two days ago, Justice DY Chandrachud did something that is not being criticised by the author, but as a citizen of India, it is being analysed as a positivist would. The simple man with a simple conscience seems to be able to comprehend the basic events that take place around us, thus from the Right to Privacy highs,we are at the lows of Tehseen Poonwalla PIL.
We remember Justice Loya’s death on 1st of December, 2014. It is that fateful year that brought Narendra Modi led BJP to power, and the same year Mr Devendra G. Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Justice Loya was working on a case where a hardened criminal, his aide and his wife were allegedly abducted and shot by the Gujarat Police in separate encounters. There happens to nothing peculiar about the matter that Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauser Bi and Tulsidas Prjapati died in encounter, except the fact the BJP supremo Amit Shah was the Home Affairs minister in the Gujarat government back then and the Police was to obey his orders if nothing else, meanwhile if a hardened criminal is killed by the Police using unconstitutional means, we brand it as good for the society. Yet, the brother of Sohrabuddin, approached the Court against the misuse of power by the Government.
A brief timeline of the case would be good for us who are unaware of it:-
Nov 26, 2005: Sohrabuddin killed in a fake encounter
Nov 28, 2005: Kauser Bi killed
Dec 28, 2006: Prajapati killed in Chapri village
Jan 12, 2010: Supreme Court hands over case to CBI
July 23, 2010: CBI chargesheets Amit Shah as prime accused
July 25, 2010: CBI arrests Shah
Oct 29, 2010: Gujarat HC grants bail
Sept 27, 2012: SC transfers trial from Gujarat to Mumbai
April 8, 2013: SC clubs Prajapati case with Sohrabuddin case
The case that began in Gujarat was transferred to Maharashtra, with the effect of a Supreme Court order which mentioned due to the circumstances prevailing a Gujarat a free and fair proceedings may not be conducted there. At the same time it also said that it shall be ensured that only one judge conducted the entire probe into the case. It is worth noting that Mr. Amit Shah spent 10 months in jail.
Amazingly, after the case was handed over to the court of CBI Special Judge, Mr. JT Utpat, was the sitting judge, he was transferred midway because he wanted Mr. Shah to appear in person before him, and that is when Mr Loya took charge. Justice Loya had the will to deal with the case, the files of the case ran over 10,000 pages, and was now linked to the country’s second most powerful man, Mr. Amit Shah.
There is nothing ever reported against Judge Brijgopal Loya in the local media that could prejudice us against his conduct. Which brings us to the conclusion that he had a clean service record. There is no information available about his public statements about the case as well. So we now come to the day when he died under conspicuous circumstances which the Court deems was a natural death.
In the evening of 30th of November, 2014, he was in Nagpur to attend marriage of a colleague’s daughter, with two other judges. They were staying at a government guest house there, but accidentally there exists no record of the room where they/he had stayed. The Caravan reveals that Mr.. Loya had a talk with his wife about successfully having attended a marriage in the evening.
On the 1st of November, 2014, this gentleman was dead. Though the hospitals and police blamed myocardial infarction as the cause of death, but the chain of events that are revealed by the Discreet Inquiry of the Maharashtra State Investigation and the findings of the Caravan report are in-congruent, and conflicting.
This case gained traction only after the Caravan on 20 and 21 November 2017, published a cover story compiled by Niranjan Takle, who investigated the entire story and built a picture through his construction of chain of events which was not very simple and ‘natural’, as the Police had declared the death of Loya to be ‘natural’.
After the death of Mr. Loya, Judge MB Gosavi was appointed in his place and he happened to acquit Mr. Amit Shah of all the charges and the case was closed on the 30th of December, 2014 . Justice Utpat was transferred after he tried to bring Mr. Amit Shah to appear in person before him, while Mr. Loya exempted him from personal appearance, he was known not have been disposed towards Mr. Amit Shah, though he was committed to the case.
On 24th of November, 2014, Judge Loya’s security was lifted up, and he was roaming without escorts, and dealing with a high profile case. This is thought provoking, though the report by the Caravan brought to the fore many such events that were hinting at some mischief being committed behind the scenes, thereby all the parties to the Tehseen Poonawalla case had approached the Supreme Court under the PIL jurisdiction.
This is my question based on common sense, India is a country governed by law, when the law for investigations is very simple and clear, how is it possible that the State Intelligence Maharashtra, conducted a detailed inquiry without actually recording the statements of the victims, was it trying to bring out the truth or just fulfilling a formality? This is the layman idea behind all of the renowned Senior Lawyers throwing their weight behind the case through a PIL. Nobody intended to demean the judiciary or politicise the issue, as the BJP has been claiming over and again!
Justice Chandrachud gone through the submissions made by Advocates Mr. Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaisingh, and Pranshant Bhushan among others for the Petitioners, Advocates Mr. Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi for the Respondents.
The judgement delivered on Thursday was one that actually applies to the use of the word justice as an irregular proverb. India and elsewhere, there have been occasions where press reports have been the basis of historic decisions being rendered by the Courts and the Legislators also. The case that the SC decided thus,was not based on innuendos, surmises and assumptions of some suspicious man, but was based on the hard work of an individual who wasn’t hired by the opposition for ulterior motives, which is known as investigative journalism.
The Petitioners had prayed that the Court order the case to be inquired afresh by a SIT, which would have actually taken pains to examine the witnesses, relatives, and the other people involved in the incident, which should have been a part of the discreet enquiry,and it would still have been discreet. The discreet enquiry that the Maharashtra government had ordered just deals with the investigation in a summary manner, based on the report of the Caravan and was discreet in excess. It is believed that in order to be discreet they got confused with what is the difference between going discreet and going obscure.
The Petitioners produced ample evidence to support their claims based on common sense which was not helpful for the Court to smell anything out of the course, and think but they relied on the documents produced by the Maharashtra Government. The chain of events, the discrepancies in the investigation report, would convince any sane man that there is something wrong, or the state machinery is not to be relied at all for being excessively lethargic and inaccurate, if that is Justice Chndrachud meant to acknowledge.
Further, when Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad was lashing out at the role of lawyers in the evening that before national media, we may not expect him to think rationally as he is after-all a politician who has a colleague’s career at stake when Senior Advocates use the law to keep the citizens of this country informed, and safe. He could have chosen his words carefully instead of attempting to threaten and rebuke the lawyer community, as he incidentally is one himself. Which is enough evidence to prove that somebody got alert.
The impeachment motion moved by the Congress against CJI Dipak Misra is not well timed, though there is something not very good about him, as there has been a problem in appointing new judges that have been recommended by the Collegium, there is a flaw in allotment of cases, and there are verdicts like Tehseen Poonawalla, still there needed to be more time for the people to know that the Highest Judicial officer, is not well aware of his responsibilities.
The judgment is not worth the applause that the right-wingers are attaching to it, and the censure that the centrists are trying to effect is not well timed. The system has to be people friendly and not politician friendly. Judge Loya may never find justice and Sohrabuddin, who cares, he was a criminal.