As the wise Chinese had hoped for all of humanity, we are beginning to live in interesting times. When, as Arun Shourie puts it, Rahul Gandhi’s tweeting-dog ‘Pidi’ gets more play than some of the most important stories of the day.
A judge who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case involving BJP president Amit Shah is mysteriously found dead. His sister says the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court had offered him Rs 100 crore for a “favourable judgement”.
The Caravan magazine bravely prints the story with the family members on camera.
Yet, not a squeak on your favourite TV channel or your morning newspaper. Au contraire, every attempt is made to demolish the claims of the family, led strangely by the only two news organisations which had some credibility left. What is happening?
For years, Arnab Goswami has milked the death of Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar for his proprietor eyeing the Trivandrum seat. Here are 75 questions Goswami would have asked if judge Loya had been Pushkar.
On what day and at what time did Justice Brijgopal Harkishan Loya die? Did he die before midnight on November 30, 2014 (Caravan reporter Niranjan Takle cites witnesses who saw the body during the night)? Or did he die the next morning, on December 1, around 6.15 am, as recorded by the post-mortem report?
When exactly did Judge Loya develop “chest pains” for him to be hospitalised? At 12.30 am on December 1, as narrated by the two judges, who accompanied him to Nagpur, to his sister, Anuradha Biyani? Or 4 am on December 1, as per the post-mortem, two judges produced by the Indian Express, and the director of Dande Hospital?
The family members are quoted as saying they were first informed at 5 am about the death and the post-mortem. The post-mortem report says the PM was conducted around 10.30 am on December 1. When exactly did the post-mortem take place?
Was a post-mortem done at all, or was the body merely cut open and stitched up to make it seem so? Was the post-mortem report an afterthought, as hinted at by the Caravan reporter citing witnesses, to allay “doubts” of foulplay?
If it was a natural death, why is there such a wide variation in time on such a simple matter? Are the police and hospital authorities in an important city like Nagpur so incompetent that they do not know how to record timings with precision even for a VIP?
Is it just a coincidence that a judge who admonished BJP president Amit Shah for not appearing in court on 31 October in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, was found conveniently dead before the next scheduled date of hearing, December 15?
Why have judges Shridhar Kulkarni and ShriramMadhusudan Modak, who reportedly accompanied Judge Loya to Nagpur for the wedding of fellow judge Swapna Joshi‘s daughter, not spoken out yet?
Why was Judge Loya initially not inclined to go to Nagpur for the wedding? Was he simply reluctant, or did he fear something as evidenced by all that has come out now?
The two judges, who reportedly took an unwell Judge Loya in an autorickshaw to Dande Hospital, reportedly told the family that he “climbed the stairs”, and was given some medication. What was it? How did his condition worsen for him to be “brought dead” to a second hospital, Meditrina, after medication?
Were either or both of the judges who accompanied Judge Loya to Nagpur present when the decision to do a post-mortem was made? Did they give their consent to it? If not, who did? Why did they or anyone think it necessary if it was a natural death?
Why was a post-mortem done on judge Loya’s body if he had died naturally as the two judges whom the Indian Express has produced assert? Was any member of the family intimated on the post-mortem? Was their consent obtained?
If the death was perceived to be a medico-legal case, warranting a post-mortem, why did Nagpur police not take possession of and seal Judge Loya’s belongings (like his mobile phone) before turning it over to the family, or an investigation?
Is it natural for a 48-year-old TT-playing, teetotaller without BP or diabetes to die of “coronary artery insufficiency” when his parents are 85 and 80, and the family has no history of cardiac trouble?
Is there any truth to the suspicion of those who had gathered at Judge Loya’s funeral felt that he had been “assaulted” leading to his death, as alleged by his college mate Uday Gaware and those present at the funeral?
Whose word carries more weight and credibility on the purported circumstances surrounding the death of Judge Loya: his sister Anuradha Biyani, who is a doctor? Or judges, unconnected with the story, produced by the Indian Express?
What did judge Loya’s son Anuj mean when he wrote in a hand-written letter “I could completely see the guilt on his face”, when Justice Mohit Shah visited the Loya family two-and-a-half months after the death?
“If anything happens to me or my family members, Chief Justice Mohit Shah and others involved in the conspiracy will be responsible,” Anuj Loya wrote in the February 2015 letter, three months after the death.
Why did the then Chief Justice Mohit Shah not feel it fit to order an inquiry into Judge Loya’s death, despite a reported letter from the deceased judge’s son Anuj, 80 days later (above, left)?
After the Caravan story 15 days ago, Judge Loya’s son Anuj reportedly met the current CJ of the Bombay HC Manjula Chellur and stated that his father had died after a heart attack and that he had “full faith in the members of the judiciary who were with [Loya,]” Is he doing so on his own volition, or is he saying this under pressure?
Has somebody forged Anuj Loya’s signature on the letter (above, right) giving a clean chit on his father’s death?
Who in Nagpur unilaterally made the call to send the dead judge’s body to his ancestral village in Gategaon in Latur district, without consulting the judge’s wife and son in Bombay, or his parents and sister?
Why did “Judge Barde” tell Judge Loya’s sister Anuradha to go to Gategaon (350 km from Dhule) and why did a person who also identified himself as “Judge Barde” tell his other sister Sarita (who was in Latur) to come to Nagpur, 500 km from where she was?
When and how did the RSS worker Ishwar Baheti learn of Judge Loya’s death? Who intimated him from Nagpur and why? Why was he deputed to stay in touch with the family on the post-death arrangements instead of court officials or the police?
If Judge Loya passed away early in the morning between 5 and 6 am, why was Baheti talking “through the night with people in Nagpur” on where the body must be taken, as reported by Caravan? Was Judge Loya known to Baheti, as NDTV claims?
How come neither Judge Loya’s father nor his sister told the Caravan reporter that Ishwar Baheti was related to them when they spoke to him on camera? And how is it that Loya’s son Anuj suddenly claims now that Baheti is his “uncle”?
Why was judge Loya’s mobile phone returned to the family not by the police, the local administration or court officials, but by the RSS worker Ishwar Baheti? Who wiped the phone clean: police, Baheti or someone else?
Did the police seek the call detail records of Judge Loya’s phone number from cellphone operators? Were there any suspicious calls before he developed “chest pains”? Were there any repeat phone calls from Bombay High Court chief justice Mohit Shah?
Who is the “maiyatacha chulatbhau”—or the paternal cousin brother of the deceased—who signed on every page of the post-mortem report? Is it a forgery when the judge’s father states he has no brother or paternal cousin in Nagpur?
Do judges hearing sensitive cases have no police security? Can they be admitted to hospital, shifted, post-mortemed, and transported at will by anybody claiming to be a colleague, friend, relative or RSS worker?
Who was the judge who was “constantly” telling judge Loya’s son Anuj “not to talk to anybody” on the way from Bombay to Gategaon? Why were these apprehensions if it was a natural death and there was nothing suspicious about it?
Why and how did the Indian Express magically discover that judge Bhushan Gavai and judge Sunil Shukre were at the second hospital, Meditrina, where Judge Loya was “brought dead”, and produce them to punch holes in the Caravan story?
How are judges and hospital officials who did not speak to Caravan for a story which was in the making for months, suddenly popping up to whitewash the family’s concerns around Judge Loya’s death in a week? Are they doing so on their own?
How has Judge Bhushan Gavai taken it upon himself to validate the circumstances around the death when he wasn’t there? How is he quoted by the Indian Express, NDTV and The Times of India saying more or less the same things, on or around the same day?
How did Judges Gavai and Shukre know that “(local judge) Vijaykumar Barde and then Deputy Registrar of the Nagpur bench of the High Court Rupesh Rathi first took him to Dande Hospital in two cars” when the judges themselves are quoted by the Caravan as telling the family that they used an autorickshaw?
Judge Loya’s sister told the Caravan reporter that the ECG machine in the first hospital where he was taken to, “wasn’t working”. So is the ECG report that the Indian Express is touting, real? Where did it get from? Who gave it?
The ECG report is dated November 30, although the two judges produced by Express to run down the Caravan story, say he developed “chest pains” at 4 am on December 1. Is the ECG report, which has the hospital name written by hand, fake?
Even if the date mismatch is due to a glitch (as an addendum on the website of the Indian Express claims), can a hospital in a very important city like Nagpur get the name of a VIP patient wrong? (BrijkishanLoya is spelt as BrijmohanLohiya.)
Have the medical authorities in Maharashtra paid a visit to Dande hospital after the Caravan report to inspect its facilities and fitness, and to see if its license to run can be renewed again when it is so poorly equipped?
Does a government-run VIP guest house like Ravi Bhavan have no security, no CCTV? Did Reception or the guards see the condition in which Judge Loya exited? Did they witness anything out of place before? Did anybody go into his room?
If Judge Loya was eliminated why would not the killers remove all evidence? Why would his spectacles be “under the belt”, his belt twisted, pant clip broken, as noted by his sister Anuradha Biyani in her diary?
If Judge Loya was involved in a scuffle, why would no effort be made to wipe out the blood stains on the neck of the collar? Why would somebody stage the charade of taking him to a hospital, and then to one more?
If Judge Loya indeed told his family that if he delivered a favourable verdict by December 30, 2014, there would be a “bigger news” that would dominate the headlines, why would anybody want to get rid of him a month earlier?
If somebody did want to eliminate Judge Loya, why would they choose to do it in such a ham-handed manner in a faraway location, arousing suspicion, when they could have done it without leaving a trace in Bombay?
Has the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra bothered to ascertain why the Sohrabuddin case has been heard by three separate judges when the SC had expressly ordered that it be adjudicated by the same judge from start to finish?
Given the mysterious transfer of judge J.T. Utpat, the suspicious death of judge Loya, and the propitious acquittal of Amit Shah by the third judge M.B. Gosavi, will the CBI file a review petition in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case?
Was judge Utpat transferred in the normal course of things or was there something more to it, because he was shifted after reprimanding Amit Shah? Did the SC broach Judge Utpat’s transfer ignoring its diktat with Justice Mohit Shah?
Are there usually so many coincidences in all cases, or only in those involving Amit Shah? Will the SC, which transferred the case out of Gujarat, take cognisance now that the suspicions have been confirmed by a gag order on media reporting of the trial?
Had Judge Loya indeed applied for a transfer from the CBI court due to pressure, as claimed by his uncle in an NDTV interview? Why was he under pressure, from whom?
Judge Loya’s law college batchmate in Latur, Uday Gaware, has revealed, on camera, that the former was under “pressure” from Justice Mohit Shah. What is Shah’s response? Has Gaware received any calls or faced any threats after making that statement?
Did the former Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, his successor Dipak Misra or any of their brother judges write or speak to Justice Mohit Shah about Judge Loya’s death, especially when it involved a bribery charge of Rs 100 crore, levelled by his sister?
Did Judge Loya’s sister, Anuradha Biyani, raise the issue of the alleged Rs 100 crore bribe before Justice Mohit Shah when he visited the family, 80 days after the death? If not, why did it take more than two years for her to raise it?
Is it true that Justice Mohit Shah, who made the alleged Rs 100 crore bribe offer for a “favourable judgement”, is related to BJP president Amit Shah, who was the prime accused in the Sohrabuddin murder case? If so, how?
Does the Indian judiciary have an apprehension that the rich and powerful may be obtaining discharge in key cases in exchange for money and other blandishments? Is this just a “Gujarat model”, or a national phenomenon?
If Justice Mohit Shah did not make the Rs 100 crore offer, as alleged by Judge Loya’s family, is he planning to take legal recourse to clear his name? If not, why not, when his reputation and that of the entire judiciary is at stake?
How does the highly acclaimed Bombay Bar view the allegations of a Rs 100 crore bribe offer by a sitting Chief Justice?
Is Rs 100 crore the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for judges with a farming background?
Have the Supreme Court and/or Bombay High Court taken note of the resolution and demand by the Latur Bar Association (and diplomats and bureaucrats), for a probe into the “suspicious circumstances” surrounding the death of Judge Loya?
Do the Chief Justice of India and his brother-judges think it normal that the Sohrabuddin case, which was hanging in the balance for years, was heard, reserved and disposed of by the third CBI judge M.B. Gosavi in less than 30 days after taking over from Judge Loya?
Is it true the prosecuting agency CBI argued its case for only 15 minutes whereas Amit Shah’s lawyers argued for three days? Was the CBI “taken care of”? Will the SC take note of it since the Sohrabuddin case was being heard by a CBI court under its watch?
Will the SC rethink its decision to hold hearings in sensitive cases in cities and states, other than where the crimes were committed following the “tension” Judge Loya is reported to have expressed to his near and dear ones, leading to his death?
Was the December 30, 2014 order discharging Amit Shah, reserved on December 17, deliberately timed for the day of the announcement of the retirement of cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni? Or was it just a coincidence?
Did Amit Shah, as a BCCI functionary, know well in advance that Dhoni was going to make his announcement on December 30? Was it communicated to the defence lawyers?
Which was the “national news magazine” which sat on the Justice Loya story for eight months before he handed it over to The Caravan, as alleged by former editor and politician Arun Shourie?
Was it The Week, where Niranjan Takle is listed as having worked earlier, which turned down the story?
Why did the owners and editors of that news organisation believe that the story of the death of a judge hearing a case involving the sitting president of a national party feel it unimportant? Was the story lacking in journalistic value or rigour, or were they afraid of the consequences of publishing such a story?
Why is no national newspaper or TV channel pursuing the Justice Loya story, when members of his family have come on record on video, and political parties and eminent people have woken up to demand an investigation?
Why are the few stories that have come out aimed at crushing the family’s case? Is NDTV’s clean chit aimed at securing an extended lease of life?
Has the reputation of the Indian Express and NDTV gone for a toss with its reverse-verification of the Caravan investigation aimed largely at dissing and dismissing the original story? Or have they only done what is fair and balanced journalism?
Will reporter Niranjan Takle or The Caravan be considered for the Ramnath Goenka Awards for Excellence in Journalism next year? Or is the Indian Express‘s command performance sufficient for the jury to not even consider it?
What steps has the Devendra Fadnavis government taken to protect Judge Loya’s family following the Caravan expose—and the life and limb of reporter Niranjan Takle, who has risked all in reporting and publishing a story like this?
Have the Chief Justice of India and the Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad woken up to the threats faced by judges hearing sensitive cases and urged state governments to ramp up security?
Has the credibility of the judiciary been irretrievably destroyed after the suspicious death of a sitting judge and the bribe offer from a chief justice, and other “self-inflicted wounds”, as described by former Delhi high court CJ A.P. Shah?
Are the three pillars of Indian democracy—the legislature, the executive, the judiciary—now in the same boat, with a little help from the mythical fourth pillar, the media? Shouldn’t this be the topic of the next ‘Mann ki Baat‘ by Narendra Modi?
Has the President of India taken note?
Have the voters of Gujarat?