Family speaks out about suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of CBI Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya

The news report done by the Caravan has raised several disconcerting questions with regard to the death of the CBI Judge in Mumbai, Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge who was hearing the alleged encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2005. On December 1st, 2014, the family of Judge Loya was informed that he had died of a heart attack in Nagpur, where he had gone to attend a colleague’s daughter’s wedding. The prime accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case was Amit Shah, the Minister of State of Gujarat at the time and the Bhartiya Janata Party’s National President at the time of Loya’s death.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh was shot dead on account of being a terrorist for the Lashkar-e-Taiba by the police of Gujarat in November 2005. A Special Investigation Team revealed that Sohrabuddin Sheikh had been detained by the Police three days earlier, along with his wife Kauserbai and associate Tulsiram Prajapati. It was concluded by the investigation that Sohrabuddin Sheikh was not a terrorist but had been a victim of an extra-judicial murder.  The investigation revealed phone records which suggested Amit Shah had been in touch with police between September 2006 and January 2007. The case was transferred to CBI in January 2010 by the Supreme Court. CBI filed a chargesheet against Amit Shah in July 2010. Citing intimidation of witnesses in the Gujarat court, the trial was moved to Mumbai in September, 2012.

In May 2014 once the BJP Government came to power, the CBI judge hearing the trial JT Utpat was transferred and replaced by Brijgopal Loya. He was transferred weeks after reprimanding Amit Shah for seeking exemption from appearing before the court. After the death of Brijgopal Loya, the case was transferred to MB Gosavi, who heard the case for 2 days before dropping all charges against Amit Shah.

The family stayed quiet till 2016, understandable when the parties involved were clearly those in the upper rungs of political power. However, no one knows what prompted Judge Loya’s niece Nupur Balaprasad Biyani to approach Niranjan Takle a journalist who went on to publish the story in the Caravan. Thus, began his investigation into the story that has turned into the

According to the report done by The Caravan, Anuradha Biyani, sister of Judge Loya and a medical doctor in Dhule, Maharashtra admitted that her brother had confided in her that he had been offered Rs.100 Crore by Mohit Shah for giving a favourable judgement, the then chief justice of the Bombay High Court. Loya’s father Harkishan also mentioned that he had offers to deliver a favourable judgement in exchange for money and a house in Mumbai.

The family revealed that at the time of the death, they had raised questions with regard to the circumstances surrounding the death which had been suspicious; however, most of these were left unanswered. They asked for an inquiry commission to probe the death, yet it was never done.

The family was informed on the morning of December 1, 2014, that Judge Loya had a heart attack and that his body would be sent to Gategaon. According to the information disclosed to the Caravan, the family stated that an RSS worker informed Harkishan, the father of Judge Loya, that he would arrange for the body to be taken care of. However, no one knows how this RSS worker received information regarding the death. Another , none of his colleagues accompanied the body which was brought to Gategaon in an ambulance from Nagpur by no one other than the ambulance driver. This raises questions regarding the standard protocol followed when a judge who has passed away in office. It would be safe to assume that as a CBI Judge, his body should have been accompanied by security personnel.

Anuradha Biyani, in the story to the Caravan, recounted finding the body amiss, noting the bloodstains on his shirt as irregular and noted misinformation in the post-mortem report, done by the Government Medical College in Nagpur, which did not indicate the presence of the blood stains on his clothes. Given the suspicious circumstances, the question of why a panchnama was not prepared and medico-legal case not filed arises. The phone belonging to Judge Loya was also returned 4 days after his death not by the police, but by the same RSS worker and the data was deleted from it.

Several questions remain unanswered with the circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Loya- Why was the family not informed when Loya was taken to hospital? Why were they not informed as soon as he died? Why were they not asked for approval of a post-mortem, or informed that one was to be performed, before the procedure was carried out? Who recommended the post-mortem, and why? What was suspicious about Loya’s death to cause a post-mortem to be recommended? The post-mortem was signed by a sub-inspector of a police station in Nagpur and implied that he was related to the family, whereas that has been revealed as false information by the family. The time of death suggested on the post-mortem report in incongruous with the time that the family received the phone call.

These questions raised in the article and voiced by the family warrants an investigation into the matter of the suspicious death of a sitting judge of the CBI Court in Mumbai. There is yet to be a statement put out by the BJP on these allegations.

(Watch the video of Niranjan Takle interviewing the family here.)