The Indian Supreme Court has dismissed petitions calling for an investigation into the “mysterious” death of a judge while he was handling a murder case in which the president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was among the accused.
Judges on Thursday called the petitions a “frontal attack” on the judiciary and said they had no reason to doubt the four Mumbai judges who said that judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya had died of natural causes.
Judge Loya allegedly died of cardiac arrest in 2014 at age 48 while he was presiding over a case in which Amit Shah, a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had been accused of ordering three extrajudicial killings in 2005 and 2006.
Shah, now president of the BJP, was discharged by the judge who took over the case due to a lack of evidence.
the pursuit of the law may end at the doors of the Supreme Court, the journalistic quest for the truth doesn't
— Hartosh Singh Bal (@HartoshSinghBal) April 19, 2018
Family members of Loya had questioned the circumstances of his death and said he had come under political pressure during the case, prompting petitions for an inquiry.
But the three-judge bench dismissed the petitions as “frivolous and motivated” and with the intent to “malign the judiciary”.
‘A sad day for judiciary’
Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer and one of the petitioners, said the Supreme Court ruling made for “a sad day for the Indian judiciary”.
“They have not even sought an independent investigation into the very, very suspicious death of their colleague,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The people will continue to question [the cause of death of Judge Loya] and continue to question the Supreme Court’s judgment.”
and continue to question the Supreme Court’s judgment”]
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra described the petitions as “political interest litigation” orchestrated by opposition leader Rahul Gandhi aimed at defaming Shah.
“The people who have been politicising the judiciary for their own motives, now stand exposed,” he said at a press conference.
In a high profile court case Shah had stood accused of ordering police to carry out the killings of gangster Sohrabudin Sheikh, his wife and his friend when he served as home minister under Modi in the state of Gujarat.
“[People] want to know that in a case involving some very powerful people the judiciary is capable of acting independently,” Alok Prasanna Kumar of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy told Al Jazeera.
“It’s unfortunate that the court has said that we don’t want to find out.”