Death of Judge Loya: Former Judges of the Higher Judiciary PB Sawant and BG Kolse-Patil Demand an Independent Inquiry

03 December, 2017

Two retired judges of the higher judiciary—former Supreme Court justice PB Sawant, and former Bombay High Court justice BG Kolse-Patil—have joined a growing chorus of support for an investigation into the death of the judge BH Loya. In separate interviews with The Caravan, the two judges have demanded an independent inquiry into the suspicions raised by Loya’s family. “This matter needs a thorough investigation,” Sawant told The Caravan. “Otherwise, the truth will not come out,” he said.

Kolse-Patil emphasised the necessity for an independent investigation “if the Supreme Court or the high court wants to save the integrity of the judiciary.” “A Supreme Court-monitored commission should be appointed” to probe Loya’s death, he said. “It should have minimal involvement of the government machinery.”

Three days after The Caravan’s reports on judge Loya’s mysterious death, AP Shah, a former chief justice of the Delhi High Court, became the first member of the judiciary to demand an enquiry into Loya’s death. Shah told The Wire that the late judge Loya, “was a senior member of the district judiciary and not enquiring into the allegations made by the family, not addressing their grievances would send a very wrong signal to the judiciary, particularly the lower cadre.” BH Marlapalle, another retired judge of the Bombay High Court, shared Shah’s concerns regarding the implications that a failure to conduct an investigation may have on morale of the lower judiciary. In a letter to Manjula Chellur, the present chief justice of Bombay High Court, dated 21 November, Marlapalle sought “an investigation by an SIT” by registering The Caravan’s reports “as a PIL petition.” He noted that this “will certainly make the subordinate court judges to believe that they are not orphans.”

In the circumstances surrounding Loya’s death, Kolse-Patil noted that it was necessary that “judges should work like gods.” “The country needs it today,” he said. “Independent judiciary is a must.” The retired Supreme Court justice Sawant further noted that it was necessary for “independent personnel to investigate this matter without fear and favour.”