The Congress on Wednesday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team probe into the "suspicious" death of judge B.H. Loya in December 2014, saying there seemed to be a "cover-up" and "some serious questions were unanswered".Addressing a press conference here, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the party was putting out some hitherto unknown "facts" in the public domain, including that Justice Loya, who was holding the trial into the alleged staged shootout death of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and two others, had told a lawyer-activist in a video conversation about "a draft order" which he was being "pressurised to sign". BJP President Amit Shah was an accused in the case but later acquitted. Sibal also said that two people, who were present at the time of video call, had died in "strange" circumstances. "This is happening in India. If the lawyer community which stands to defend people's rights, if that is targeted, where judges who are adjudicating on serious issues, if they are targeted, how will be democracy be saved. "This issue of democracy being in danger was also raised by the four judges of the Supreme Court," Sibal added, referring to the four senior-most judges' allegation that the apex court administration was not in order.Sibal, who was joined by lawyer and activist Satish Uke, said ahead of Loya's death in Nagpur, his police security was withdrawn, there was no travel record of his visit and there was no entry of his name in the VIP guest house there.
He said Uke came to him in July 2017 but he did not share at that time what the lawyer told him that Nagpur lawyer Shrikant Khandalkar and retired district judge Prakash Thombre had come to Uke in 2014 and told him that Loya wanted to talk to him as he wants to act impartially in an important case that is in his court and is keen to divert "the pressure he is facing".A video call was later facilitated between Loya and Uke when the judge said told him that he was under heavy pressure, said Sibal, adding that Uke and Thombre came to Delhi to seek legal help but went back disappointed after being told by a senior advocate that there was not enough evidence to move the court. He said that in October 2015, Khandalkar phoned Uke to tell him that he was getting death threats and was allegedly killed next month, with his family terming it a conspiracy and murder. Sibal said that next year, Thombre told Uke his life was in danger and named two people before dying in an accident on a train in May 2016, adding that these incidents "tell a strange tale". He added that in June 2016, tonnes of iron suddenly fell on the roof of Uke's office. "When journalists are facing danger, lawyers are facing danger, judges are facing danger, there is a danger to democracy," Sibal said, demanding the whole matter should be referred to an independent SIT which should not have any Central Bureau of Investigation or National Investigation Agency officer.He said the party would protest in every village if an independent probe was not ordered."Injustice is being done, something is being shown, some people are being protected... This has never happened in the history of India," he said.Uke, who also addressed the media, said that there were several discrepancies in Loya's post-mortem.