Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday demanded a probe into the death of Justice B H Loya. He said the circumstances of the judge Loya's death, as reported in the media, come across as suspicious and leads one to believe that he was murdered.
On Thursday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had also demanded a high-level judiciary enquiry be immediately instituted to look into the death of the CBI court judge, who was hearing the case into the alleged fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
At an event on Thursday, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha member Shatrughan Sinha had expressed concern at the "atmosphere in the country" where "journalists, intellectuals, and even judges are being killed". Retired Delhi High Court chief justice A P Shah has also called for an enquiry into Loya's death.
According to a report published in newsmagazine The Caravan earlier this week, 48-year-old Loya, who was presiding over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Mumbai, died in Nagpur on December 1, 2014. Loya, the report said that he had travelled to Nagpur to attend the wedding of a colleague's daughter.
Loya had been hearing the case related to the alleged fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, which took place in 2005. BJP chief Amit Shah, who was at the time Gujarat's minister of state for home, was the prime accused in the case. According to the report, Loya's family has misgivings about the circumstances of the judge's death.
At a book launch event on Friday, the Delhi CM said he couldn't sleep the entire night when he read the report in The Caravan. "The circumstances of his death are really very scary.
It has been claimed that he died of heart attack. But the circumstances would lead one to believe that the judge was murdered," Kejriwal said.
At the same event, former union minister Arun Shourie said the judge's family, which was being threatened, has shown rare courage as has the journalist who persevered in investigating the death for one and a half years.
The Delhi CM said it is intriguing that the judge died a day before he had asked the BJP chief to appear in court, and Loya's successor concluded the case within months. "He said demanding an inquiry was easy, but it would happen only when the common people of this country ask for a probe, but unfortunately the entire country is quiet," the Aam Aadmi Party chief said.
Kejriwal said the development raised the more serious issue about the state of the judiciary. "It sends a message to the judiciary that if they do not toe the line they would meet Loya's fate. This issue is not about justice for justice Loya, but about our democracy. It is about you and me. It is about India," he said. The Delhi CM said there was currently an atmosphere of fear. "The media is scared, judges, traders, and businesspeople, students, Dalits and Muslims are living in fear," he said.
In its statement on Thursday, the CPI (M) said, "The exposure in sections of the media raise serious issues over the circumstances of Loya's death". "The family members of Justice Loya have alleged that attempts were made to bribe and intimidate him during the course of the trial," it said.
The CPI (M)'s politburo said, "These have raised disturbing questions of murder, bribery, subversion of law and the manipulation of institutions of our parliamentary democracy at the highest level, which must be seriously investigated." The party demanded a high-level judicial enquiry be instituted immediately to look into the whole affair.