Judge Loya Death: A Test Case for Highest Judiciary

Strongly disapproving of hate crimes, the Supreme Court maintained that every court has to be mindful of the pluralistic character of the Indian society and hence its duty to objectively decide rights of different groups.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear two PILs demanding investigation into 'mysterious' death of CBI judge BH Loya, who was trying the politically sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter killing case.

There has been a never-seen-before controversy surrounding the bench of two judges who are going to hear this case.

Questions have been raised not only by certain senior lawyers but by no less than four most senior judges, who had decided to come out in the open against the Chief Justice of India over allocation of cases to some handpicked judges.

Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph had raised issues about "select" benches getting such cases and the posting of Judge Loya's case to Court No. 10 was apparently the trigger.

But Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, even after 72 hours of this open opposition, has evidently decided to stick to his position.

And hence, the two petitions have remained before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MM Shantanagoudar in Court No.10.

There are now only two ways how this matter can go to a different bench in the Supreme Court. First, if either of the two judges of the bench recuses from hearing the petitions, and second if the bench sends petitioners to Bombay High Court where there is already a similar PIL filed by a lawyers' body and an appeal comes back to the apex court.

But in any case, the hearing of Judge Loya's death case have now become a matter of public perception.

Not just the outcome but also the preliminary hearing has attracted a lot of interest only because this case has now come to symbolise an issue which will divide people's opinion about the institution.

It has been repeatedly ruled by the apex court that a court must decide on the basis of Constitutional principles and the law, uninfluenced by the public opinion or populist demands. But to exemplify this would definitely become difficult when the question marks are raised even over manner of adjudication.

There is indeed going to be a battle between the principle of 'justice should not be done but also seem to be done" and a pure legal adjudication bereft of any opinion.

Judge Loya's case is certainly a test case also for the highest court of the land and everything, right from the constitution of the bench till a final decision is reached, will be scrutinised keenly in the people's court at the same time.​