The Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Lok Sabha member of parliament Shatrughan Sinha told The Caravan that the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the judge BH Loya “should be raised in Parliament, outside Parliament.” Sinha spoke to The Caravan on 24 November, four days after it published of a series of investigative reports by Niranjan Takle that raised significant questions about the judge’s death. Sinha noted that “the matter appears to be very serious” and that it should be addressed “anywhere and everywhere.” “We are not a banana republic,” he added.
Sinha also expressed concern at the safety and sanctity of the Indian judiciary. “Judiciary means the foremost,” he said. “If something like this happens to it, it seems as if you want a judgment that suits you … It’s a shame. It’s a blot on society.”
Sinha is the only member so far of the ruling BJP regime to make any public comment on the issue. This is significant since at the time of his death, Loya was presiding over the case of the allegedly fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, in which the BJP national president Amit Shah was a prime accused.
Sinha is one among a small number of politicians who have spoken up on the judge’s death. While all politicians—including members of both the BJP and the opposition parties—appeared to maintained a studied silence during the first couple of days following publication of The Caravan’s reports, a few have recently spoken out about the issue. On 23 November, Sitaram Yechury, the general secretary and politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), tweeted a photo of the CPI(M)’s official statement on the issue, which the party released that day, and which noted that Loya’s death raised “disturbing questions of murder, bribery, subversion of law and the manipulation of institutions of our parliamentary democracy.” The next day, Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, spoke at length about the issue during a book launch in Delhi. “If we can’t save the nation’s judges,” he said, “then there will be no democracy.” The Congress is yet to make any official statement on the matter—when the party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi was asked whether there should be a probe into the death, Singhvi reportedly responded, “Your question whether there should be a probe is certainly a correct one.” The Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s only statement on the issue has been a tweet questioning the silence of the judiciary.
When asked about the silence of the political class, Sinha said that the “election time is around the corner,” but added that he “was not in a position to speak on this matter.” In addition to discussing the implications on the judiciary as an institution, Sinha also spoke of the media’s response to the The Caravan’s reports. He was critical of the mainstream media’s silence on the issue and noted that “no other media has written or talked about it … it is not appearing anywhere.” He added, “Even some of our media friends are also so influenced by some of the influential people in politics that they are not opening up, they are not coming out.” Sinha noted, “Certain channels and media have become sarkari darbaris”—the government’s mouthpieces—“and some of them are just throwing the money of the political masters.”
Aathira Konikkara is an intern at The Caravan.