Close on the heels of two authoritative findings that took the winds off the sail of the compulsive and noisy section of the media that derives a perverse pleasure out of the defamation of the nation as much as of its government — that the Holi balloons hurled at a college student contained no semen and that the victim of a train brawl was fighting for a seat and not beef — it has become difficult to sustain their conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya. The Supreme Court has rejected the five petitions that had asked for a further investigation into the “mysterious” death, branding it as “scandalous”. Pulling up the propagandist section of the media, Justice Chandrachud took a strong exception to a magazine and a daily newspaper that published motivated reports to malign the judiciary even as the case was brought to the notice of the Supreme Court. The case of the petitioners had been rendered weak the day the son of the dead judge, Anuj Loya, said that his father had died naturally. That was over and above the death certificate specifying a coronary artery deficiency of Judge Loya.
There could yet have been some room to spin yarns around the death if the petitioners had been allowed to continue to misbehave with impunity. Pre-empting such bids by lawyers Dushyant Dave, Prashant Bhushan and Indira Jaising, the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud slammed the trio for not maintaining institutional civility towards the judges of the apex court and making wild allegations. The bench lamented the fact that the ilk of the triumvirate had turned public interest litigations, meant to provide succour to the underprivileged, into an industry to settle political and personal scores. This comment lent credence to the allegation made by Ashish Khetan at the time when the AAP and Bhushans were falling apart; it was easier to silence the journalist-turned-politician, Bhushan must have surmised today. It’s not worth attempting an answer to the question as to how the fact that the judges hail from Maharashtra amounted to a conflict of interest or lack of impartiality, which Dave, Bhushan and Jaising had insinuated. Furthermore, the bench found no scope to doubt the narration of events that led to Judge Loya’s death by four judicial officers Judge Shrikant Kulkarni, Judge Shriram Modak, Judge Vijay Kumar Barde and Judge RR Rathi.
After all that the opposition could do to embarrass the government — including, apparently, inciting four senior judges to hold a press conference questioning the CJI’s prerogative of allocation of cases — they had to, on Thursday, grin and bear with a stinging taunt from the bench: “Business rivalries (are) to be resolved in (the) market and political rivalries in the hall of democracy.” The bench was clearly irked by the attempt to reduce the highest court to a politicking tool. The INC was, in any case, ill-advised to flog a dead horse after a competent court had acquitted BJP president Amit Shah of the charge of his involvement in the encounter of smuggler Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati. Besides, Judge Loya was alternately lenient and harsh on Shah, which fails to establish a motive for his elimination. But seeing a murder in a cardiac arrest, which is no longer unusual for people in their late middle ages, suited the opposition!
That begs the question what the opposition’s role in a democracy should be. It is sheer misfortune of this country that it does not have political parties that stand for distinct ideologies. As a result, the only issue that one party tries to find against another is a scandal, which emerges in the form of allegations either of corruption or of heinous crimes. The situation has turned worse now, where the attack on the government is often tantamount to an assault on the prevailing civilisation of Hinduism, the examples of which were the ridiculous stories fabricated on the day of Holi and the day a young Muslim man succumbed to injuries sustained in fisticuffs over the occupation of a berth in a coach of a train. The breast-beating over the killing of a criminal is related by the commonality of the religion of Junaid and Sheikh. Even as attempts to project Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a bigot who has unleashed marauding mercenaries on the minorities fail time and again, the nation must decide whether it should let a bunch of irresponsible politicians, lawyers and journalists get away with their constant bad publicity of India. Given the attack on the webpage of the Supreme Court that contained the Loya judgment by Brazilian hackers, the government must institute an inquiry to probe the international angle. After all, one petitioner in the Loya case was an unabashed separatist and another had a record of dubiously dealing with foreign donors.