2nd HC bench refuses to hear Loya’s death case

NAGPUR: Yet another division bench at the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday recused itself from hearing the case filed by controversial lawyer Satish Uke who has alleged that special CBI judge Brijgopal Harikishan Loya died of poisoning from a radioactive .

Earlier, a division bench headed by Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice Shreeram Modak had refused to hear the case. The contents of the hearing on HC’s website just mentioned that both the judges said “not before us”.

On Wednesday, division bench comprising Justices Pradip Deshmukh and Swapna Joshi recused without citing any reason. Now, the chief justice would have to assign a special bench to hear the case.

That Loya died of radioactive isotope poisoning is a new revelation in the case that hogged limelight after several cases were filed in the Supreme Court demanding a thorough probe into the death of Loya. The deceased judge presiding over cases related to the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh which allegedly involved BJP president Amit Shah and 21 others.

The names of three of the four judges, including Shukre, Modak and Joshi figured in the documentation related to the death of Loya who died under mysterious circumstances at Ravi Bhavan in the city on December 1, 2014. Loya had arrived in the city to attend the marriage of Justice Joshi’s daughter while Justice Modak had travelled with him to the city and stayed with him when he suffered a stroke. Justice Shukre was present in the hospital with Loya’s body.

In his plea filed on Monday, Uke through lawyer Abhiyan Barahate claimed that retired district judge Prakash Thombre and lawyer Shrikant Khandalkar had disclosed to him that Loya died due to poisoning from a radioactive isotope in Nagpur on December 1, 2014. He contended that post-mortem report and other documentary evidence pertaining to the judge’s death and subsequent investigations were altered.

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Both Thombre and Khandalkar died in mysterious circumstances, before the facts came to light, the petitioner said.

Uke, who was earlier convicted in two contempt cases and is now facing a third one, alleged that Shah met former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, Ratan Sinha, in Nagpur in March 2015, but all official records about their meeting were wiped out.

The SC bench, led by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had already ruled out any independent probe into the CBI judge’s death in April, relying on testimonies of all the three judges.

Uke, who had earlier shared dais in Delhi with Congress bigwigs, including former HRD minister Kapil Sibal, former law minister and spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, had prayed for preserving all documents related to Loya’s case and producing them in the HC. Sibal later appeared for Uke in the SC to tender his unconditional apology for making wild and baseless allegations against the sitting lawyers and judges at the HC’s Nagpur bench.

Uke had earlier claimed that Thombre and Khandalkar revealed to him that records of Loya’s death were manipulated to shield the “killers”. He claimed that in October 2014, Loya tried to him through these two persons, stating that he was under pressure in Sohrabuddin case. He finally managed to connect with him through a video call where Loya told him that chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was allegedly pressuring him to come out with a favourable verdict in the Sohrabuddin case in return of bribe.

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