Former Bombay CJ Mohit Shah offered 100 crore bribe, claims family of late judge in Sohrabuddin case

Former Bombay CJ Mohit Shah offered 100 crore bribe, claims family of late judge in Sohrabuddin case

The Caravan has brought to light some startling revelations in the case relating to the Sohrabuddin encounter killings of 2005, particularly with respect to former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Justice Mohit Shah.

In an article published today, it has been alleged that Mohit Shah J offered the trial judge hearing the Sohrabuddin case Rs. 100 crore for a judgment in favour of BJP leader Amit Shah, who was the prime accused in the case.

The claims were made by the family members of the late Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the judge tasked with hearing the case. Loya passed away under mysterious circumstances in December 2014.

His family members revealed to Caravan inconsistencies in the reported account of the death, the procedures followed after his death, and the condition of the judge’s body when it was handed over to the family. Their requests for an inquiry commission to look into the death had fallen on deaf ears.

The article also quotes Loya’s sister Anuradha Biyani as saying that Mohit Shah J would pressure her brother into delivering a favourable verdict in the case. According to her, Mohit Shah J,

“would call him late at night to meet in civil dress and pressure him to issue the judgment as soon as possible and to ensure that it is a positive judgment.

My brother was offered a bribe of 100 crore in return for a favourable judgment. Mohit Shah, the chief justice, made the offer himself.”

Further, Loya’s son Anuj had written a letter referring to Mohit Shah J,

 “I asked him to set up an enquiry commission for dad’s death. I fear that to stop us from doing anything against them, they can harm anyone of our family members. There is threat to our lives…if anything happens to me or my family, chief justice Mohit Shah and others involved in the conspiracy will be responsible.”

Shortly after Loya’s death, a new judge, MB Gosavi was given the task of deciding the case. Gosavi heard the parties for three days, before reserving judgment on December 17, 2014. The judgment, whereby Amit Shah was discharged, was pronounced on December 30.

This judgment was then appealed in the Bombay High Court, which dismissed the same for want of locus. A petition in the Supreme Court challenging Amit Shah’s discharge would also meet with a similar fate last year.

The manner in which the trial took place itself has been called into question. The fact that three different judges heard the case was a direct violation of a Supreme Court order in the petition filed by the CBI to transfer the case out of Gujarat. In September 2012, Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai directed the Administrative Committee of the Bombay High Court to,

“…ensure that the trial should be conducted from beginning to end by the same officer”.

Dushyant Dave had opposed Shah J’s elevation to the Supreme Court
Dushyant Dave had opposed Shah J’s elevation to the Supreme Court

This is not the first time that allegations of impropriety have been made against Mohit Shah J. In December 2015, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave had written letters to then Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, opposing the elevation of Shah J to the Supreme Court. One of those letters states,

“The learned Trial judge was changed on one pretext or the other three or four times without seeking the leave of this Hon’ble Court…I am not on the merits of a Judicial Order that may have been passed in favour of the Mr. Amit Shah, but on the act of commission or omission on the part of Chief Justice Mr. Mohit S. Shah as Head of the Bombay High Court.

Any reconsideration at this stage of his case would perhaps raise serious and justifiable doubts in the minds of right thinking citizens. It is one thing for the political establishment to reward a Judge by offering him the Governorship but it is entirely different for the Collegium to do so. I respectfully request that this ought to be avoided in larger interests of the Judiciary.”

Justice Shah was appointed as an additional judge of the Gujarat High Court in 1995, and was made permanent in 1997. He was thereafter elevated as Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court in 2009, before assuming office as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court a year later. He retired on September 9, 2015.

The former judge was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing this story.

Image courtesy: YouTube

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