The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday mounted an attack on the opposition Congress after the Supreme Court rejected pleas to probe the death of Judge B H Loya, alleging that the 'invisible' hand behind the petitions was that of Rahul Gandhi who tried to use the judiciary for 'character assassination' of Amit Shah.
The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Judge Loya died of natural causes and that the petitions were a serious attempt to scandalise and obstruct the course of justice.
Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra described the public interest litigations seeking the probe into the death of Judge Loya as ‘political interest litigation’, and charged that Gandhi and his party were behind it.
Noting that the Congress had held press conferences and Gandhi had led a delegation of opposition parties to the President for seeking a probe, Patra said he should ‘apologise’ and be ‘ashamed’ for his conspiracy to target Amit Shah, and Indian judiciary and democracy.
The Congress engages in all sorts of conspiracies after its ruling family loses power, he alleged and added the attempt to use judiciary for political purposes was a ‘new low’ in Indian politics.
The ‘invisible hand’ behind these petitions in the apex court belonged to Gandhi and the Congress, Patra alleged.
He alleged that they were filed to settle political scores as the opposition party is incapable of taking on Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the electoral field.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the SC order has sent out a clear message that the judiciary cannot be 'misled' by allegations based on political vendetta.
The minister, who posted a series of tweets, also came down heavily on 'several attempts' to target the BJP and its top leaders through 'fake' cases.
'It is extremely unfortunate that there have been several attempts of targeting the BJP and assassinating the character of its top leaders on the basis of ‘fake facts'. These attempts have failed miserably once again,' he said on Twitter.
The home minister said the Supreme Court order has also raised serious questions on the intention of filing such PILs.
'The Supreme Court has also cautioned against the misuse of courts in political tug of war. The SC verdict gives a clear message that the judiciary can not be misled by allegations based on political vendetta,' Singh said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath welcomed the verdict and mounted attack on the Congress president.
'Rahul does not want that any person other than someone from the Gandhi family should run the country. The Congress stands exposed,' he tweeted.
Referring to a Congress press conferences and a Rahul Gandhi-led delegation to the President for a probe into Judge Loya's death, the chief minister said the apex court verdict on the issue has exposed the 'ugly face' of the Congress.
Talking to reporters later, he said, "The verdict in Judge Loya case has exposed the Congress once again. Rahul Gandhi should apologise to the people of the country. They have tried to create such an environment that develops negative emotions in the people for the government."
BJP leaders Meenakshi Lekhi and Aman Sinha said the PILs were a kind of 'blackmail and propaganda machinery' aimed at maligning the people in power and the Congress leadership should apologise to BJP president Amit Shah.
Lekhi, Lok Sabha MP from New Delhi constituency and a lawyer, said the petitioners and activist advocates opposed to the BJP ruled government were trying to denigrate the constitutional institution.
"When a court takes a decision against them, they start crying foul, maligning people in power bringing disrepute to the constitutional institution," she said, adding that those involved in the PILs on Loya's death were trying to 'bring suspicion in the minds of people who are actually right thinking and have faith in the judiciary and democratic institutions'.
Sharing her views, Sinha, senior advocate and BJP spokesperson said, "With this judgment, those who attempted to politicise and malign the judiciary with mala fide intent and ulterior motives stand exposed."
"The petitioners and Congress leadership should apologise to the nation and BJP President Amit Shah for attempting to malign him," Sinha said.
Lekhi said 'a hue and cry on the lines of Camridge Analytica controversy was being created' to create doubts in the minds of the people who have faith on the judiciary.
"It is a kind of blackmail basically and their propaganda machinery at large," she said and recalled that when activist Teesta Setalvad was getting bail after bail in corruption cases, the same set of people who are not happy with the outcome of the today's verdict were hailing the apex court orders.
"This is the same institution which has given bail after bail to Teesta Setalvad even in case of corruption for misuse of funds and not just carrying out propaganda mechanism. That is alright but dare find anything against these motivated groups then there is conspiracy for everyone to see," she said adding that misuse of PILs should be stopped.
Lekhi said PILs should not become private interest litigations as has been held in Thursday's judgment.
Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi added that the Supreme Court verdict had demolished the Congress' efforts to defame the BJP's top leadership and the party, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should apologise for the 'sin'.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi, Communist leaders and a few media houses for 'attempting to malign' the image of the BJP chief in the matter.
He said the Supreme Court has accepted 'the inquiry report submitted by the state government'.
Three years after Loya's death, an attempt was made to create suspicion and target Shah, Fadnavis said.
The Supreme Court's ruling exposed the 'Congress, Communists and a few media houses (which had taken up the issue)', the chief minister told reporters in Parbhani in Marathwada region of the state.
The petitioners wasted the apex court's time and lied to the country, Fadnavis claimed.
'They must apologise to the Supreme Court and the country. Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi, the Communist parties, their allies" and "some media houses" must apologise" to our country for spreading such utter lies against our (BJP's) national president Amit Shah,' he tweeted later.
The issue of Loya's death had come under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister had fuelled suspicion about circumstances surrounding it and its link to the Sohrabuddin case, which he was hearing before he died.
Shah was an accused in the case but was later discharged. Several activists and opposition parties had alleged a foul play in his death.
While dismissing the plea for an independent probe, the top court today said that with these petitions it becomes clear that a real attempt and a frontal attack was made on the independence of the judiciary.
The apex court said frivolous and motivated litigation has been filed to settle political rivalry.