The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will hear the Loya case — two Public Interest Litigations demanding an independent probe into the death of special CBI court judge BH Loya who died in 2014.
The Loya case is seen as the trigger for the top four Supreme Court judges after the CJI to go public with their criticism of CJI Misra for allocating sensitive cases to junior judges. Judge Loya, then presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, died in Nagpur on 1 December, 2014. Current BJP president Amit Shah was named in the case but, in late December the same year, he was discharged by the court.
Besides the CJI, justices AM Khanwilkar DY Chandrachud will be on the bench, according to the list of business released by the Supreme Court registry on Saturday. The fresh twist in the case comes four days after a bench of justices Arun Mishra and MM Shantagoudar ordered the listing of the Loya case before an “appropriate bench,” triggering speculation that they had withdrawn themselves from hearing it.
On Friday, the CJI ordered that the matter be put up before an appropriate bench as per roster but there was uncertainty over who would hear it. Lawyers for the petitioners – Tehseen Poonawala and Mumbai-based journalist BR Lone – mentioned the matter before the CJI. Lone’s advocate Anita Shenoy said she went to the CJI’s court to apprise him about the last order in the case and seek a date for hearing.
“On January 16 Justice Arun Misra had said the matter should be listed before an appropriate bench after a week. It was, therefore, mentioned to the chief who said the case would be now be heard by the bench as per roster,” Shenoy explained.
The two public interest litigations (PILs) demand an independent probe into the death of special CBI judge BH Loya. The petitions were originally listed before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra. On 16th, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra heard the matter directing the Maharashtra government to share details of the police investigation into judge Loya’s death with the petitioners and also passed an order for listing of the case before an appropriate bench.
In the SC a roster system is followed to mark cases to benches that sit in the combination of two judges. Roster is notified by the SC registry after the CJI approves it. However, the roster is not made public and even lawyers are unaware of the same. When a “sensitive matter” or PIL is filed the SC registry brings it to the notice of the CJI who then takes a call on who will hear it.
Justice Arun Mishra’s January 16 order, fuelling apprehensions over him hearing the case again came a day after he broke down at a morning tea meet of SC judges where he expressed his anguish at being collateral damage in the fight between the four senior judges and the CJI because their allegations cast aspersions on his abilities.
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