The lawyer Milind Pakhale has filed a police complaint stating that an entry he made in the occupancy register at Ravi Bhavan, a government-run VIP guest house in Nagpur, has been manipulated. Pakhale is a prominent public figure, and is the convener of the Khairlanji Action Committee, formed after the 2006 massacre of Dalits in Khairlanji, Maharashtra. The judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who died suddenly on the night intervening between 30 November and 1 December 2014 while on a visit to Nagpur, is reported to have been staying at Ravi Bhavan on his final night. Pakhale’s entry in the occupancy register appears just before two other entries that relate directly to Loya’s stay.
At the time of his death, Loya was presiding over the trial in the allegedly staged encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which Amit Shah, the current president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was the main person accused. In reports published by The Caravan, numerous family members and associates of the late judge have raised questions regarding the circumstances of his death, and said that Loya reported attempts to influence his judgment in the Sohrabuddin case, including by Mohit Shah, then the chief justice of the Bombay High Court.
Pakhale filed the complaint on 20 December 2017 at Sadar police station in Nagpur. He has also sent a copy of the complaint to the executive engineer of the Public Works Department in Nagpur, which runs Ravi Bhavan. Nagpur police confirmed receipt of the complaint when contacted by The Caravan. The executive engineer told The Caravan that he had not been able to look into the issue because the state assembly was in session, and would only be able to get to it after Christmas.
The police complaint states, “Somebody has manipulated government records in relation to the grave incident that occurred on 30.11.2014 and with the purpose of erasing evidence of my registration this document was corrupted and a bogus document was prepared and that was used.” Pakhale writes that he made the entry in question in 2014, in his own handwriting, but the same entry in the register now shows arrival and departure dates from 2017, in a different handwriting. He makes it clear in the complaint that the rest of the entry, beyond the arrival and departure dates, remains in his own hand. “I am filing this complaint to demand an immediate inquiry against the officer and the employees responsible for this manipulation,” Pakhale adds.
This considerably strengthens the case for an independent probe into Loya’s mysterious death. Family members, associates and former colleagues of the late judge have issued calls for such a probe, as have prominent retired judges, government bureaucrats and military officers.