Judge Loya’s Death: Caravan Questions Shoddy Records, Testimonies
The publication has uncovered possible manipulation in almost every record on the night of Loya’s death made public.
(In light of four sitting SC judges saying their letter to the CJI expressing concerns about the functioning of the judiciary is related in part to the Judge Loya case, The Quint is republishing the following article originally posted on 22 December 2017.)
After publishing its report on the suspicious death of judge Brijgopal Harkrishan Loya – who was presiding over the encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, where the main accused is Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah – The Carvan on Thursday, 21 December, reported more discrepancies related to the judge's death.
Loya had purportedly died of a heart attack on 1 December 2014 when he was in Nagpur to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.
The publication has uncovered possible manipulation in almost every record on the night of Loya’s death made public. These include the records in the occupancy register of the government guesthouse in Nagpur where Loya was staying. It also points out the anomalies in the ECG chart which was reportedly made in Dande Hospital – the first medical institution where Loya was taken that night.
The report also talks about several conflicting media reports, which came out after the first article was published by The Caravan.
Was the Occupancy Register at the Government Guesthouse Manipulated?
The Caravan checked the occupancy register of Ravi Bhavan, the government guesthouse where Loya was staying, on 3 December 2017, and found some irregularities.
According to the report, pages 45 and 46 of the register had three blank rows (the only pages that had any blank rows). Page number 45 had three complete entries, while the fourth entry, which was in the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar Milind ______ (last name illegible), did not have the signatures of the guest or of the people who received and checked him out. The other entries on the page have all these signatures.
More notably, the check-in and check-out date for the guest is noted as 30 November 2017. The Caravan questions how the incorrect date was entered twice.
Page 46 includes entries for suites 10 and 20, in the name of S Kulkarni (registrar Bombay HC) and Smt Phansalkar-Joshi, respectively.
The Carvan found out that while a Shrikant Kulkarni was the registrar of the Bombay High Court in 2014, Phansalkar-Joshi was the registrar general.
Justice Bhushan Gavai recently told The Indian Express that two male judges were staying with Loya at the guesthouse. The report rules out the possibility that either of these two judges stayed with the woman judge Phansalkar-Joshi, and infers that all the three male judges occupied a single suite – 10.
It then questions why the three judges shared the suite when other rooms were apparently available.
Reports Conflict on How Loya Was Taken to the Hospital
Justice Loya's family told The Caravan that he was transported to the Dande Hospital in an auto rickshaw by the two judges who were staying with him. An NDTV report dated 26 November said, “At Ravi Bhavan, staff members who were present at the time and wished to remain unnamed told NDTV that there are no designated drivers in Ravi Bhavan, and Justice Loya did not appear to have a car specially assigned to him for the trip either.”
However, on 27 November, NDTV published another report, based on information from Justice Gavai. It said, “when Judge Loya began feeling uneasy, he was driven to a local hospital accompanied by a court official and a judge from Mumbai with whom he was sharing a room, recalled Justice Gavai.” The report concluded that this “contradicts the family’s claim that Judge Loya was transferred to hospital in an auto rickshaw and without appropriate supervision.”
Gavai told The Indian Express that a local judge named “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.” Justice Sunil Shukre told The Indian Express, “There was no question of taking him in an auto rickshaw,” and that “Judge Barde drove him to Dande Hospital in his own car.”
Another follow-up report by Scroll stated that Loya was brought to the hospital by Shrikant Kulkarni, not Shridhar Kulkarni as per the police records. The Ravi Bhavan occupancy register also clearly identified the “S Kulkarni” named in it as the registrar of the Bombay High Court—Shrikant Kulkarni.
Further Unresolved Questions Raised by The Caravan
The Caravan’s piece includes more conflicting points surrounding Justice Loya’s death:
- The wrong time-stamp on ECG report from Dande Hospital
- RSS links of Pinak Dande — the owner of Dande Hospital
- Why Lata Mangeshkar Hospital, Wockhardt Hospital and Wockhardt Heart, all considered among the best medical facilities in Nagpur and are within easy driving distance of Ravi Bhavan, not the first choice for treating Loya
- Loya’s family reports phone calls informing them of his death at least an hour prior to his registered time of death
- No communication about the post-mortem with Loya’s family until after it was concluded
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