The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
The top court said that there was no merit in the petitions, adding that there was no reason to doubt the statements of the sitting judges.
The court further observed that Judge Loya died a natural death, and said that the petitioners attempted to malign the image of the judiciary.
Loya had allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague's daughter. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud had on March 16 reserved the judgement on the pleas.
The Maharashtra government had argued in the apex court that all pleas seeking an independent probe into Loya's death were motivated and aimed at targeting "one individual" in the guise of upholding the rule of law.
It had come down heavily on alleged accusations, bullying and browbeating of judges in the top court by some activist lawyers in the Loya case and said that the judiciary and judicial officers need to be saved from such averments.
The top court said that with these petitions it becomes clear that a real attempt and frontal attack was made on the independence of judiciary. The apex court said frivolous and motivated litigations have been filed to settle political rivalry.
The petitioners had launched a veiled attempt to malign the judiciary and the credibility of judicial institutions has been questioned, the three-judge bench said and criticised attempts by senior advocates and activist lawyers Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan to make insinuations against judges including that of the apex court.
It also took serious note of Bhushan's plea that two of its judges Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud should recuse themselves from hearing the matter as they come from Maharashtra and must be knowing all judges of the Bombay High Court concerned with case.
The apex court said during arguments, counsel for petitioners forgot to maintain institutional civility towards judges and made wild allegations.
The top court said it thought of initiating contempt proceedings against petitioners but decided not to go ahead with it. "Courts are not the place to settle business or political rivalry which has to be fought in markets or elections," the bench said.