On January 12, 2018 four out of five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court in an unprecedented move held a press conference expressing concern over the administrative functioning of the Apex Court. When asked whether it was about the Justice Loya case, Justice Gogoi, one of the four judges gave a one-word reply- YES!
Justice Brijgopal Harikrishan Loya was presiding over a special CBI court in Sohrabuddin encounter case when he died of what is being called a heart attack in the early hours of December 1, 2014. The prime accused in the case was Amit Shah, Minister of State in Gujarat at time of Sohrabuddin’s encounter and BJP party president at time of Justice Loya’s death.
On November 20, 2017 all hell broke loose with The Caravan Magazine’s exclusive report titled ““ covering plethora of questions raised by the family of Justice Loya over incidents that preceded and followed his death.
Another report by The Indian Express titled “CBI judge BH Loya’s death in 2014: Nothing suspicious, say two Bombay HC judges who were at hospital” investigated and contradicted the claims made in Caravan’s report. Since then, other media houses too came up with their respective investigation reports with NDTV too joining the bandwagon.
Justice Loya was staying at Ravi Bhavan, a government guest house for VIPs in Nagpur where is reported to have complained of heart pain at 4 am. Surprisingly, the guest house’s records doesn’t show any entry in his name. He reached Dande hospital, 3 km away, at 4:45 am. The delay is unexplained.
The judge’s family claim that he was rushed to the hospital in an auto-rickshaw while Justice Bhushan Gavai told The Indian Express that (Local judge) Vijaykumar Barde and then Deputy Registrar of the Nagpur bench of the High Court Rupesh Rathi first took him to Dande Hospital (3 km from the guest house) in two cars. Few unnamed staff members of Ravi Bhavan told NDTV that Justice Loya did not appear to have a car specially assigned to him for the trip and hence the auto-rickshaw was used.
The family also raised suspicion about the choice of local ill-equiped hospital Dande, an orthopaedic hospital with no functioning ECG machine. To counter claims The Indian Express presented Justice Loya’s ECG report from Dande Hospital dated November 30, 2014- a day before he was rushed to the hospital. The error in date was later claimed to be a technical glitch but there are doubts whether any other ECG reports from the hospital have the error in their dates too. Contradictorily, Rathi in his statement to Supreme Court said, “the nodes of ECG machine were broken. Doctor tried and wasted some time but machine was not working.”
Justice Loya was declared dead at 6:15 am at Meditrina Hospital while the family claims they started receiving calls around 5 am. Meditrina charged INR 1500 for neurosurgery in their medical bill. The Caravan in a recent report says that a leading forensic expert, Dr. RK Sharma, rules out heart attack on the basis of the medical report which according to him show signs of possible trauma to the brain, and even possible poisoning.
Judge Loya’s sister Anuradha Biyani says her brother’s shirt had bloodstains at the back. “There was some darkening. His face was swollen and his jaw was twisted. They told us that had happened while giving him oxygen, but I know for a fact that never happens.” said Biyani, a doctor by profession,
The Accidental Death Report registered at Nagpur’s Sitabuldi police station states Loya’s time and date of death recorded as 6.15 am on “30/11/2014”—a day before he died. This report is one of the several documents submitted to the Supreme Court and assessed by The Caravan.
There are so many discrepancies involving the circumstances surrounding the death and with the Supreme Court dismissing the petitions asking for independent probe into Justice Loya’s death calling it an attempt to malign the judiciary, the mystery remains unsolved.