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Congress says perturbed by issues raised by SC judges, calls for impartial probe into Judge Loya's death

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The Congress today said the issues raised by four senior Supreme Court judges at an unprecedented press conference here earlier in the day were "extremely disturbing" and sought an impartial probe by an independent Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the death of CBI Judge Brijgopal Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case adn died in mysterious circumstances in 2014.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi appeared before the media after party spokespeson Randeep Singh Surjewala had made a statement on the judges' action.
 
"I thought it was a sensitive and important matter. I thought it appropriate to say a couple of things. The points that have been raised by the four Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court are extremely important. They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. I think it is extremely serious and needs to be looked into carefully," he said.
 
"They have also made a point about Judge Loya’s case. I think that also needs to be investigated properly. It needs to be examined at the highest level of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
 
"This type of thing has never happened before. It is unprecedented and I think all the citizens, who love the idea of Justice, who believe in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, are looking at this issue closely and I think it is important to be addressed," he added.
 
The Congress press conference came after Mr. Gandhi held detailed discussions with senior party leaders on the developments of the day. Several of them, including senior lawyers such as P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid, were present at the press conference.
 
Mr. Surjewala said the observations made by the four judges -- Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- at the press conference and in the letter they wrote to the Chief Justice of India, Justice Dipak Misra, had far-reaching consequences for the values people held sacred: safeguarding democracy and preserving the independence of the judiciary.
 
He said that, in the public interest litigation (PIL) concerning the death of Judge Loya, the Congress beleived that the matter must be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, who should ensure that, under their supervision, there is a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.
 
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Mr. Surjewala noted that the judges had specifically highlighted two issues -- the long silence of the Government of India to the Memorandum of Procedure that was finalised by the Supreme Court and the assignment of cases in the Supreme Court to what is described as “selectively to the benches of their preference without any rational basis for such assignment".
 
He also noted that one of the judges had referred to the PIL on the death of Judge Loya, which the family of the judge believes was under suspicious circumstances. He said the judges had also hinted at other instances which they would raise later.
 
"The Congress party is deeply perturbed by these developments. The country holds the judiciary in the highest esteem and millions of people knock on the doors of the courts seeking justice. The non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure has left nearly forty percent of the sanctioned posts of the judges vacant, leading to delay in justice delivery.
 
"The Congress Party earnestly appeals that the Full Court of the Supreme Court should take up the issues raised by the four Honourable Judges and find solutions that are consistent with the traditions and conventions of the Judiciary pointed out by the four Honourable Judges and that will preserve the independence of the judiciary.
 
"In the matter of assignment of cases, the established conventions and traditions of the Courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases that have far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most Judges of the Supreme Court," Mr. Surjewala added.
 
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