NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday said the 2014 death of judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who was hearing sensitive cases, was a serious matter and asked the Maharashtra government to explain why an independent probe should not be ordered.
Loya's court was handling the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, in which BJP president Amit Shah was one of the accused. Loya died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague's daughter. Shah was later discharged by the court from the case.
The top court also asked the state government to submit post-mortem report of Loya.
The SC said, "This matter requires bi-party hearing rather than exparte".
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and M.M. Shantanagoudar asked Maharashtra government counsel Nishant R. Katneshwarkar to file a reply by January 15.
At the outset, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Bombay lawyers association, said the high court is seized of the matter and the apex court should not hear the pleas.
"The Bombay High Court is seized of the matter and in my opinion, the Supreme Court should not hear this matter. If the court goes ahead with the hearing, it may have implications before the high court," Dave said.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for one of the petitioners Maharashtra-based journalist B R Lone, said that she has also instructions from Bombay lawyers association that this matter should not be heard by the top court.
The bench, however, said it will look into the petitions but will also consider the objections raised.
Advocate Varinder Kumar Sharma, appearing for another petitioner Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala, said this is a case where a mysterious death of a judge has taken place on December 1, 2014 and it needs to be investigated.
The bench then asked Katneshwarkar to file the post-mortem report and other relevant documents regarding the death of judge Loya besides taking instruction from the government.
(With inputs from PTI)