Death of Judge Loya: Government documents placed before Supreme Court raise more questions, deepen the mystery. By ATUL DEV

Documents submitted to the Supreme Court by the state of Maharashtra as part of hearings regarding the death of the judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya contradict each other on multiple counts. The papers have been submitted alongside a report prepared for the additional chief secretary of the home ministry of Maharashtra by Sanjay Barve, the commissioner of Maharashtra’s State Intelligence Department, or SID. Copies of the documents were handed over to petitioners asking for an investigation into Loya’s mysterious death in Nagpur in 2014. The papers raise further questions about the circumstances of the case, and fail to resolve any of the troubling discrepancies already exposed in the matter by The Caravan. They also suggest a concerted bid to manipulate records to create a narrative that Loya died of a natural heart attack.
The submitted documents include statements from four judges - Shrikant Kulkarni, SM Modak, VC Barde and Roopesh Rathi - who claim to have been with Loya in his last hours. None of these judges had previously spoken or submitted statements on the case. A handwritten statement given to the SID by Rathi, who says he was working in Nagpur in 2014, states that the ECG machine at Dande Hospital was not working when Loya was taken there on the night he died.

Rathi’s statement says that Dande Hospital “was on 1st floor and so we all climbed stairs and went there. One assistant doctor was present there. Mr. Loya complained about severe chest pain. His face was sweating & he was continually telling about more chest pain and heart burn. At that time the doctor tried to do his ECG but the nodes of ECG machine were broken. Doctor tried and wasted some time but machine was not working.” In the copy of Rathi’s two-page statement submitted to the Supreme Court, these lines appear at the bottom of the first page. It is evident that the text has been abruptly cut off on this page of the copy produced to the petitioners by the state of Maharashtra.
Judge Rathi’s statement agrees with what Loya’s sister Dr Anuradha Biyani told The Caravan, as reported in November 2017. Biyani said that, soon after Loya’s death, the judge’s family was informed that no ECG test was performed on him at Dande Hospital because “the ECG was not working.”

Subsequently, the Indian Express, in an attempt to discredit the family’s concerns, published the chart of an ECG test purportedly carried out on Loya at Dande Hospital. The time and date on the chart indicated that the ECG test had been carried out on the morning of 30 November 2014, even though Loya died on the night intervening 30 November and 1 December. The Indian Express later quoted the owner of Dande Hospital explaining the discrepancy away as a “technical glitch.” The same ECG chart was cited in statements to the media by the commissioner of the Nagpur police, and was reported on by NDTV, which said it “was shown the ECG report by Nagpur police.”

In their statements to the SID, Modak and Kulkarni do not mention an ECG test at all. Barde states in passing that the medical officer on duty at Dande Hospital performed an examination on Loya that included an ECG test. The SID report itself makes no mention of any ECG test.
Rathi’s eye-witness testimony that the ECG “machine was not working” strengthens the grounds for doubting the authenticity of the ECG chart. If, in fact, no ECG test was performed on Loya at Dande Hospital, questions must be asked as to how a chart purportedly produced by such a test, with the words “Dande Hospital” handwritten in its margins, found its way to select media outlets within a week of The Caravan first reporting the Loya family’s suspicions.

In a follow-up report in December, The Caravan pointed out signs of possible manipulation in numerous records relevant to Loya’s death. It is notable that not a single one of the apparently doctored records pointed out in that report—including the ECG chart, pages of the occupancy register at the guest house where Loya stayed in Nagpur, and a page of his post-mortem—has been included in the 60 pages of documents submitted to the Supreme Court. Loya’s post-mortem is mentioned in an index of all the papers submitted, but only part of the document has actually been produced before the court so far. The first page of the post-mortem is listed as page number 25 of the submission, but this page has been excluded without explanation. The Caravan’s December report included an image of the first page of Loya’s post-mortem, and pointed out that a crucial date on it had been overwritten. According to a Supreme Court order regarding the Loya petitions dated 22 January, when one of the petitioners raised the issue of the missing page in court, a counsel assisting Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who are representing the state of Maharashtra in the Loya matter, said that it would be provided “in the course of the day.” The Caravan has not been able to determine whether the petitioners have yet received a copy of the missing page… read more:

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