The Judge Loya case is still a mystery as no government, neither the BJP nor the Maha Vikas Aghadi has committed to investigate the case and find out the actual reason of his death. The Supreme Court also had earlier dismissed a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) seeking an independent probe into the death of Brijgopal Harkishan Loya in December 2014. Then, Justice Loya was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Central Home Minister Amit Shah was then an accused in the case in which he was later acquitted from all charges. He died of cardiac arrest on December 1, 2014 in Nagpur where he had gone to attend the wedding ceremony of the daughter of one of his colleagues. Four other judges, who also attended the wedding ceremony, had said that Justice Loya died of heart attack. BH Loya was then officiating as a judge with the CBI special Court that was hearing the Sohrabuddin case. He was the second judge to hear the high-profile encounter case. He had been appointed as the special CBI judge in June 2014 after the presiding judge J.T. Utpat was transferred from the case.
Interestingly, Judge Utpat was removed from the case a day before he was to pronounce the order on a petition for discharge of Amit Shah from the Sohrabuddin encounter case. Incidentally, the Supreme Court had earlier directed that the presiding judge in the case should not be replaced. Incidentally, Judge Utpat had taken strong objection to Amit Shah’s absence from the Court during the trial. Loya died on December 1. His successor discharged Amit Shah from Sohrabuddin encounter case concluding that he need not stand trial. The CBI did not challenge the judgement either. The Maharashtra government’s counsels told the Court that state police following media reports about Loya’s death carried out a discreet investigation, this investigation was done on a white paper and so far, no affidavit was submitted. The police also recorded the statements of the four judges who attended the wedding ceremony. Later on Judge Loya’s family was kept captivated to create fear in them. Not only that, Sanjay Fadnavis, a cousin of Devendra Fadnavis made a late-night call to threaten an advocate who had been working to obtain information regarding the mysterious death of judge Loya. At close to 1 am on the intervening night between 5 and 6 March, Sanjay Fadnavis called the advocate and activist Abhiyan Barahate. Sanjay is the son of then chief minister’s paternal uncle. He is known to be politically active on behalf of his cousin in Nagpur. Many people around allege that from extortion to threatening people and settling the matters on behalf of Fadanvis are done by Sanjay.
On 6 March, Barahate sent a written complaint to the police commissioner of Nagpur about the ‘criminal intimidation in filthy language’ by Sanjay Fadnavis. Barahate explained in his letter to the commissioner that he had met Fadnavis during the 2014 assembly elections in the state while the latter had been campaigning for his cousin Devendra. According to Barahate’s letter, the two exchanged numbers and subsequently met on various occasions, but had not been in touch for at least the past year. Barahate added that he was “deliberately keeping a distance” from those affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party because he had begun working with Satish Uke, a lawyer and activist for whom he began appearing before various government authorities and organisations. Uke has been working to gather information and documents pertaining to Judge Loya’s death for a few years now. At the time of his death, Loya was hearing the case regarding the allegedly staged killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which the prime accused was Amit Shah. Uke’s association with Loya became public in recent months after The Caravan published a series of reports regarding the suspicious circumstances surrounding the judge’s death in Nagpur in 2014 purportedly of a heart attack. On 31 January, the lawyer-activist appeared among the speakers during a press conference led by senior advocate Kapil Sibal on behalf of the Congress party. Sibal recounted to the press about Uke’s interactions with Loya. Well! those days in state and in Centre it was BJP’s government and nothing could be actually concluded in the case.
Now, the present Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh made a statement, if new evidence is presented, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government could consider reinvestigating the mysterious death of Judge B.H. Loya. It might help an audacious Shiv Sena score a few points against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. But any hurried move by the Uddhav Thackeray government to revive the controversial Judge Loya case can boomerang – politically and legally. But minister Deshmukh isn’t the first one to hint at reopening Judge Loya case. Before him, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had also said that the case could be re-investigated if there was a “fresh complaint and it has substantial evidence”. But today, when agitators met Pawar, he insisted that the family of Loya should come forward so that government can take up the matter with persuasion. Many, including the family members of Judge Loya have suspected a foul play in his death and sought an impartial inquiry. So, should the case be investigated thoroughly? Yes. But there are several impediments that could hinder the Maharashtra government’s consideration from turning into something transformative.
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