Judge Loya judgment has been rendered on a group of petitions seeking investigation into the death of Judge Loya. The only issue in the case was whether the inquest report prepared u/s 174 CrPC closing the case on the finding that the death was due to natural causes, was correct. Let me state at the outset that out of 118 pages of the judgment, 117 pages are pure noise.
There wasn’t any need to refer to the Caravan articles (I have observed Justice Chadrachud has a liking for journalistic articles, but let me state journalism has ceased to be professional: most of it, especially opinions, is motivated, frivolous and fake). In fact, the reference to these articles has contextualized the misconceived argument of the state that the petitions were filed on the basis of Caravan articles, which context was otherwise absent. Indeed, there were discrepancies in the articles and they couldn’t have been the sole basis of any judicial proceedings. If such an attempt was made by any of the petitioners, it was unfortunate.
The extensive reference to “discreet enquiry” carried out by State intelligence in consequence of the Caravan articles was also misplaced. The “discreet enquiry” has no basis. There was nothing on record to show that the enquiry was carried out after reaching even a preliminary opinion that inquest report was erroneous. In fact, it is pretty clear the “discreet enquiry” was carried out purely as a political tool to substantiate the findings of the inquest report. Indeed the enquiry was motivated and should have been rejected outright by the Supreme Court.
Much was made out in the media about the judgment giving undue importance to the statement recorded by the four judges in the “discreet enquiry”. I must say the substantial portion of the judgment deals with the statements of the four judges, but there is only one sentence which is relevant. The sentence is as quoted: “The statements were submitted with dispatch. Reading them it is clear that they have been submitted without pre-meditation.” Para q of the statement by Judge Modak raises doubt about there being no pre-meditation. He has been extremely polite towards judicial posts in his testimony except for para q, where he has referred to Judge Loya as “Loya”. The sentence seems to be pretty emotional and truthful, but the same raises doubt about the rest of the testimony. I would say testimony of any person who has undergone legal training can’t be trusted without cross-examination. But anyways, all these things are irrelevant as the reliance on these testimonies on the basis of misplaced reliance on “discreet enquiry” itself is misplaced. I would say relying on “discreet enquiry” is error apparent for the judgment proceeds on the premise that “discreet enquiry”, which by it’s very nature was supposed to test the null hypothesis that inquest enquiry was correct, can be legally used to supplement the inquest enquiry.
Now coming to the inquest enquiry per se. The judgment has not discussed anything about it except for explaining the scope of inquest enquiry. It has not answered whether the inquest inquiry per se was carried out correctly and comprehensively enough. In the whole judgment, there is only one statement with respect to the inquest inquiry, which is as under-quoted:
The inquest panchnama notes the condition of the dead body and does not find any mark of injury or assault.
It is rather distressing that this mockery has happened in the Supreme Court of India. The highest court of land could write just one sentence of relevance in the whole judgment. Prashant Bhushan tried bringing on record the opinion of Dr. Kaul with respect to the ECG report, which was countered by the state with a counter medical opinion. Though even this was not per se relevant, but it provided at least some opportunity to the Supreme Court to seek neutral expert opinion on the issue, but instead of doing that, the court suspected the bonafide of Prashant Bhushan. So what if he was appearing in robe! Ask him to remove his robe and appear as petitioner-in-person if you want to be so strict about rules, but why reject something so material to the issue at hand for no good reason?
I am actually surprised that such irrelevant proceedings took place in Supreme Court on such a vital issue. I suspect the state came with an agenda to substitute grossly inadequate, almost non-existent, inquest report with a pre-meditated and motivated “discreet inquiry to achieve a fait accompli, and it has indeed succeeded in it. This was indeed a conspiracy; the subtle pleading of V. Giri through his junior, was probably the crux of the matter, which was sidelined with a single statement that there is nothing on record or pleadings to draw such an inference. I am sorry the conduct of “discreet enquiry” per se is the relevant material on record.
Well…I reiterate what I stated in one my tweets that this matter should go to the UN — though the reason this time is different but stronger. In yet another tweet yesterday, I mentioned the judgment is not egregious. I am not sure if I can maintain it any more — thankfully I am not a Photoshop expert, else I might have ended up committing gross contempt of court by reproducing the chaplet elsewhere.