4. Dead on Arrival | Crooked Media
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June 10, 2024
Killing Justice
4. Dead on Arrival

In This Episode

Judge Loya’s death left a trail of documents – but experts are conflicted on what they show. What do these records actually tell us? And how much can we trust them?

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Ravi Gupta: When we planned our trip to Nagpur, I knew we would have to visit the place where Judge Brijgopal Loya was declared dead on arrival. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] So we’re outside Meditrina Hospital. This is the second hospital that Judge Loya came to uh that night. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] It seems like they have ambulances parked outside. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Our India based producer Raksha and I visited Meditrina Hospital, hoping to talk with anyone who could give us more information about the care Judge Loya received there. In particular, I wanted to track down Doctor Sameer Paltewar, the hospital’s director, to clarify some conflicting reports about the timing of Judge Loya’s death. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] Uh. Depending on what you read and who you talk to. He was resuscitated, but then died inside the hospital or was dead already and never was resuscitated. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Reporters had reached out to Doctor Paltewar about the Loya case back in 2017, although at that time he declined to comment. But Meditrina’s Hospital website showed that he still work there. So Raksha and I tried our luck. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] What do you think our approach should be? We should go ask to speak to the director of the hospital?

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] I think we just go about it the straightforward way. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] Yeah. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] And just ask him about it. 

 

Ravi Gupta: When we got to his office, we introduced ourselves to Doctor Paltewar and told him about the project. It did not land the way we hoped. Afterwards, Raksha and I debriefed as we stepped onto the street outside the hospital. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] So what did you think of that conversation? 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] So many things, my God. Oh my God. He would not answer questions. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] Yeah. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] He would just not answer questions. 

 

Ravi Gupta: The first thing out of Doctor Paltewar’s mouth was, why should I answer you? It didn’t get much better from there. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] I think when we entered, there was a bit of hostility. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] You think? [laughter]

 

Ravi Gupta: A bit of hostility is an understatement. After he firmly denied us an interview, he asked me why I was looking into the story. When I began to answer him earnestly, he started to question me. He asked about my motives, funding, religion, and even my family. At no point would he give any information about what happened the night Loya died. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] I actually thought he would cut the meeting short and ask us to leave.

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] For sure.

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] But he ordered coffee! 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] Yeah. 

 

Ravi Gupta: The weird thing was, after that initial bubble of hostility. We all loosened up and talked for more than an hour. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] That was just ridiculous. [?]– 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] Well, he clearly enjoyed the interaction. 

 

Ravi Gupta: It was strange that a medical director with a line of patients out his door would give us so much time, especially given the fact that he didn’t want to discuss the Loya case. But the thing I just couldn’t get over was the fact that Doctor Paltewar is in a position to know what happened to Judge Loya when he was at Meditrina Hospital, but instead of talking to us about it directly, he launched into a series of odd questions. Like, when was fire invented? When was the wheel invented? We didn’t know exactly what he was getting it, but it seemed like he was implying that retreading the Loya investigation was a waste of energy. But he wouldn’t just come out and say that. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] Nothing is clear cut. Like what I would have honestly loved and I told him this, which is the truth of where I am right now, which is like the most likely scenario is this guy died of a heart attack. It would really help me if you just gave me something that helped me conclude that. No matter what happened to Loya, that should have been a straightforward conversation. [music break]

 

Ravi Gupta: Doctor Paltewar was just one of many potential sources who rejected on the record interview requests while we were in Nagpur. I’d hoped that the timing of our trip would be in our favor. Years have passed since Judge Loya’s death was in the news, and maybe people would be more comfortable talking about it. But as Raksha reminded me again and again, the spring election complicated matters. 

 

Raksha Kumar: Elections really change everything. We were reporting in the months leading up to the elections. This time they were held over several weeks in April and May. The closer the elections get, the harder it is to talk to people. 

 

Ravi Gupta: That’s something we’ve seen firsthand working on this show. 

 

Raksha Kumar: Partially because the election dominates coverage, and some potential sources don’t have the time to engage with all the media requests. And also because tensions are high. 

 

Ravi Gupta: I’ve also noticed that it seems like people are perhaps even more wary than usual of talking to the press. 

 

Raksha Kumar: And with good reason. Even more than usual, politicians scrutinize any story published around this time. This tends to have a chilling effect on anyone who might otherwise be willing to speak on a story like ours. One that could be seen as critical of the BJP. [music break]

 

Ravi Gupta: In this episode, we overturn rocks all over Nagpur looking for someone who will answer questions. This time we find someone. I’m Ravi Gupta, and this is Killing justice. Episode four, dead on arrival. [pause] [bird sounds] Another place I was eager to visit during our time in Nagpur was the guest house for government employees, where Loya stayed back in 2014. [Raksha speaking in Hindi in background] It’s called Ravi Bhavan. Yes. We share a name. Ravi Bhavan doesn’t have an exact translation from Hindi, but it’s an approximation of home of the sun. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] This is a much bigger facility than I thought it would be. 

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] So most government facilities are usually this big. 

 

Ravi Gupta: The place had the feel of a college campus during break. A series of one and two story buildings flanked a leafy green. It was quiet, with very few staffers and even fewer guests. According to news reports citing police records, Ravi Bhavan was where Judge Loya first began experiencing chest pain. Raksha and I hope that we could talk with a staff member who had been there that night. Unfortunately, that was fruitless. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] It’s tough because a lot of the employees here haven’t been here very long. [clip fades out in background]

 

Ravi Gupta: None of the staff members we spoke to had worked at Ravi Bhavan for more than a few years. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] Okay, so they wouldn’t know.

 

[clip of Raksha Kumar] So the chances are that if you talk to them, they’d be like, well, what do we know? 

 

Ravi Gupta: We may not have had any luck, but back in 2017, reporters from the Caravan spent more than two months in Nagpur investigating what happened at Ravi Bhavan. One of them was Nikita Saxena. The reporter I met in the last episode. The one who cajoled me into drinking rice beer. She said that investing all that time digging around Nagpur was what ultimately helped her get the interviews she needed. 

 

[clip of Nikita Saxena] There was a lot of fear. It was not easy for me to get access to the people I was hoping to speak with. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Nikita went on to publish a substantial investigation that included interviews with 17 then current and former employees of Ravi Bhavan. Her sources said that none of the employees on duty on November 30th knew that one of their guests had been taken to the hospital. In fact, according to Nikita’s reporting, most of the employees said they only found out a guest had died when the media started covering Judge Loya three years later. This is odd, especially when you consider how workplace rumor mills work. 

 

[clip of Nikita Saxena] So, for example, another employee told me that, you know, even when high profile people staying at the guest house got drunk and got girls into Ravi Bhavan late at night, we would hear through the grapevine what had happened. Another recalled the fact that when a cow died near the guest house, they found out about it the next morning. 

 

Ravi Gupta: The Caravan’s reporting also revealed that there were significant omissions in Ravi Bhavan’s records. Records that are actually handwritten the old fashioned way. Since Ravi Bhavan is a government facility, it’s a fairly regulated and bureaucratic place. Rooms must be formally requested and reserved. Guests are noted as they are checked in. And all of this is recorded and administered by the Public Works Department of Nagpur. With all of this in place, one would expect that Judge Loya’s name would be included multiple times in Ravi Bhavan’s records. Except it wasn’t. When Caravan reporters looked through the guest records at Ravi Bhavan, they didn’t find Brijgopal Loya’s name anywhere. When I spoke to Nikita, I was curious what she saw in this mess of details. 

 

[clip of Nikita Saxena] This is a case in which questions like this keep cropping up, right? So I remember you were saying that a lot of these could just be mistakes. And you’re right. Maybe they could be. I think one of the questions that the reporting was trying to lead us to is that this is a case in which almost every step seems to involve mistakes like these. 

 

Ravi Gupta: The Caravan went on to publish photographs of some of the Ravi Bhavan records, and that prompted another odd revelation which the Caravan again reported. A Nagpur lawyer actually stepped forward and said he recognized one of the pages because it was his entry. He recognized it and it was wrong. The Caravan reported that in a complaint filed with Nagpur police, the lawyer said he believed the records had been altered. He said he made the 2014 entry that immediately preceded the entries of Judge Loya’s party, and that both the date and the handwriting were now different. But according to the Caravan, the police did nothing to investigate that complaint. Either of these instances could be chalked up to clerical errors, but to Nikita, the pattern stood out. 

 

[clip of Nikita Saxena] The reason it’s relevant is because it points to a discrepancy which, taken in isolation, may seem small, but when you see it recurring as a pattern of discrepancies that appear at almost every stage of this case, it certainly gives one reason for a moment of pause. 

 

Ravi Gupta: We’ve reached out to Ravi Bhavan and the Nagpur Public Works Department for a comment, and we have not yet received a reply. When Nikita requested comment from the Public Works Department back in 2018, both officials she spoke to said they didn’t know what happened the night Judge Loya died. [music starts] The discrepancies between the official narrative and the Caravan reporting are hard to ignore. But plenty of people don’t read the Caravan. 

 

[clip of Ravi Gupta] I am hearing it but yeah–

 

Ravi Gupta: In fact, if you lived in India during that time and only read a more mainstream newspaper like The Indian Express, you may have walked away with a very different idea of Judge Loya’s story, because the most substantial follow up in the mainstream media came to very different conclusions. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] I was a correspondent for The Indian Express for about uh 30 years in Nagpur. 

 

Ravi Gupta: This is Vivek Deshpande, a veteran reporter based in Nagpur. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] And I was generally reporting on issues which concerned the nation as a whole. So only events of national significance were being reported by me. 

 

Ravi Gupta: By the time I met Vivek, I learned that in India, you can’t just jump into an interview. You have to sit down over tea and tell your story and hear theirs. This is the hard part for a New Yorker like me who just wants to cut to the chase. But these moments became some of the highlights of my time in India. While Vivek and I spoke, his wife ran a catering business from their kitchen, doling out plastic bags of lunch to one neighbor after another who showed up at the doorway. [soft speaking in background] Vivek is an old school beat reporter. He sees himself as a real just the facts kind of guy. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] You have to go by the facts. 

 

Ravi Gupta: It was sort of a refrain for him. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] I have to go by the facts. 

 

Ravi Gupta: He wouldn’t let me forget it. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] I mean. This is stupid. You have to go by facts. 

 

Ravi Gupta: After months of trying to get interviews with people who were highly cautious, talking to Vivek was refreshing. He had no hesitation discussing the case or his reporting on it. After the Caravan published its first Judge Loya stories back in 2017, Vivek’s editor assigned him a follow up. What else could he dig up about the judge’s death? Vivek immediately ran into the same challenge Nikita and other journalists faced. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] It was a very sensitive story and uh not many people would want to talk about it. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Despite this, Vivek and his coauthor Mayura Janwalkar, managed to get two major interviews. The only public comments from judges who were there on the night of Loya’s death. Vivek interviewed Justice Bhushan Gavai while his colleague spoke to Justice Sunil Shukre, both members of the Bombay High Court. Both men told The Indian Express what they observed that evening in November. Vivek reported Judge Gavai told him by the time they arrived at Judge Loya’s side, he was in the ICU at Meditrina Hospital. He said that the doctors tried to save Judge Loya, but to no avail. The judges haven’t talked to the media since. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] So that is how the story was put together. We spoke to all the stakeholders and we connected all the dots and we reported the story. 

 

Ravi Gupta: The account of two senior judges obviously carries a certain level of weight, especially because in India it’s extremely unusual for judges to make public statements. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] That was the surprising part. He did choose to speak about it, which was quite unprecedented in that sense. 

 

Ravi Gupta: But I wonder if that has also inflated the importance of these comments a bit. After all, these are two men who didn’t seem to have actually seen Loya until he was declared dead. They weren’t at Ravi Bhavan and they weren’t even with him at Dande hospital. Regardless, those comments made a big splash when Vivek published the story. Vivek’s articles also examined the Loya family’s accounts and he found some information that didn’t match up. In a Caravan article, Judge Loya’s sister Doctor Biyani, had recalled there’d been blood on her brother’s clothes. The implication was that perhaps those stains were from something other than the autopsy. But a senior doctor who spoke with Vivek told him otherwise. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] Even after autopsy, some sutures get opened and then blood may ooze out of it.

 

Ravi Gupta: He says that sutures or incisions made during the autopsy can open up and allow fluids to leak out. Raksha and I also spoke to a senior medical official at the government Medical college who confirmed the same. So blood on the judge’s clothes may not be suspicious. But arguably the biggest piece of reporting Vivek published was a copy of Judge Loya’s ECG report from Dande Hospital, the first hospital the judge visited on the night he died. This was major because the Caravan reported that the judge’s family was told Dande hospital’s ECG machine wasn’t working. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] That no ECG was taken was also not correct.

 

Ravi Gupta: An ECG, also sometimes referred to as an EKG is an electrocardiogram. It’s one of the simplest tests a doctor can do to get a quick peek at what the heart’s up to. Basically, it measures the electrical signals zipping through your heart muscle, giving the doctor a picture of its rhythm and its health. For someone presenting with chest pains, an ECG is standard protocol. The owner of Dande Hospital is quoted in The Indian Express saying the doctor on duty took Loya’s ECG and then recommended that he be taken to a bigger hospital. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] Because Dande hospital is basically a trauma care center. It’s not a heart specialist hospital. 

 

Ravi Gupta: That’s when the judges took Loya to Meditrina Hospital. To this day, no reason has been given for why the Loya family would be told that the ECG machine wasn’t working. We’ve reached out to Dande Hospital for comment, but have not yet received a reply. After The Indian Express published the ECG, there was some speculation about the authenticity of the test. The Caravan in particular raised questions pointing at two inconsistencies in the report. First, the report lists Loya’s name incorrectly as Brijmohan instead of Brijgopal. And second, the date on the document is incorrect. The date on the report says November 30th. Well, by all accounts, Judge Loya was brought to the hospital in the early hours of December 1st. But Vivek is confident of its authenticity and sees these inconsistencies as common mistakes. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] Clerical mistakes are very commonplace in India. 

 

Ravi Gupta: As questions about this test swirled, the Indian Express published an update, adding a statement from the hospital. Dande told them that the incorrect date was simply due to an issue with the machine’s calibration. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] That ECG machine has to be recalibrated every three months. That is what the hospital says. And if the recalibration is not done in time, then there would be a problem of date. 

 

Ravi Gupta: If they don’t recalibrate, he says. Then there could be a problem of the date. This is where Vivek’s confidence in just the facts begins to fail me. For every so-called fact, it seems like there’s another one to throw the whole thing into question. In The Indian Express, Vivek wrote that records show Loya died of a heart attack, but at no point in the article is any specific record or expert cited for that conclusion. For some, that conclusion made it easy to toss aside the version that Niranjan Takle presented in the Caravan. The story of a grieving family legitimately looking for answers. But I’m not sure the evidence Vivek presented in his article was more compelling than the evidence collected by the Caravan. The problem here is that the real information we want either isn’t available, or we’re not sure we can rely on it. For all of Vivek’s dogged reporting, the judges he spoke to weren’t actually with Judge Loya until he was on his deathbed. And as we’ll get to, the ECG doesn’t actually tell us anything valuable. It’s a lot of noise without a lot of signal. [music break] At a certain point with something like this, it’s important to try and lift yourself out of the morass of little details and look at the big picture. The most compelling thing Vivek told me had that sort of big picture clarity. It was his utter scorn for the idea that all of this added up to a conspiracy. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] I mean, this is unbelievable. All these people working in tandem with each other. Now we have to we have to kill this judge. So you be ready. I will do this. You will do this. You will do this. And eventually we will kill him. I mean, is that how it happens? I mean, we should not cook conspiracy stories which are beyond the realm of any normal possibility. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Vivek is saying, do we really think that all of these judges, doctors, and police were working together to murder a respected judge and then cover it up? Isn’t that a little out there? Hearing someone say it aloud, especially someone I respected, was like a bucket of ice water. Back at home in the US, I’m constantly reminding my more conspiracy susceptible friends to embrace Occam’s Razor to accept the simplest explanation for events, unless you have a compelling reason not to. But the thing is, the longer I spend with the story, the more I begin to understand why this sort of conspiratorial thinking makes some sense. It goes back to the powerful man looming over everything, Home Minister Amit Shah. Vivek explained it well. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] Mr. Amit Shah himself was responsible, his reputation itself was responsible for anyone being suspicious about the case. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Vivek is talking about the reputation Shah and Modi built wielding power in Gujarat state in the early 2000s. To remind you, under their watch, there was a string of alleged extrajudicial killings, including that of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. Some of those cases are still ongoing in the Supreme Court, 15 years later. 

 

[clip of Vivek Deshpande] There is nothing straight and simple about Mr. Amit Shah or uh even Mr., Narendra Modi. 

 

Ravi Gupta: But just because Amit Shah had a dark record and sordid reputation doesn’t mean he had Judge Loya killed. What Vivek said made me think about the force of polarization, how it nudges us into information silos, and leads us to seek anything that confirms what we already believe. This is a familiar problem. We have it here at home. Think about the pee tape. A lot of Democrats want to believe it’s out there waiting to ruin former President Donald Trump. But there’s no benefit to overselling weak evidence. This temptation is most clear to me in Niranjan’s work. His politics are no secret. He’s published articles that challenge BJP and RSS heroes. He shows his support for Modi’s opposition on his social media. It’s clear that he’s attracted to stories that confirm his worldview and he’s not alone. Believing something that aligns with the way you understand the world is something we all do. It’s easier than challenging your beliefs. But it’s something to watch out for. That’s what I was thinking after my interview with Vivek. Since I started this show, I’ve gone back and forth on what I think really happened to Judge Loya. There have been moments where I’ve been fully convinced that he was murdered in cold blood. And then, just as quickly, I find myself scoffing at the idea that this could be anything but a tragedy with messy documentation. After all these months, I was still not sure where I leaned. So I decided to consult an expert who had no vested interest in this case. And what she told me helped cut through the haze of details weighing me down. 

 

[AD BREAK] 

 

Ravi Gupta: If you’ve been wondering why I didn’t bring Judge Loya’s medical documents to an independent forensic expert right away, it’s because that was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Here’s our producer Raksha. 

 

Raksha Kumar: We tried to interview dozens of forensic experts in India and in the US. Some declined to talk to us due to the sensitivity of the case, and others did not want to comment on the autopsy reports by other doctors. Some felt the documentation was insufficient to make conclusive remarks. 

 

Ravi Gupta: We ultimately were able to get an American forensic expert to talk to us, and we’ll get to her in a moment, but we were never able to find a willing expert in India, and we have a pretty good idea why. It’s because of one of the follow up stories The Caravan published. Caravan reporter, Atul Dev, was also working on the Loya beat , and he wanted to find a forensic doctor to help him make sense of Judge Loya’s postmortem report. 

 

[clip of Atul Dev] I must have called more than a dozen people, medical experts, and all I asked them is that could you read these three documents for me? You’re a forensic medical expert. This is what you do for a living. 

 

Ravi Gupta: But no one wanted to touch the story once they heard it had to do with Judge Loya. Atul is actually in New York now, doing a fellowship at Columbia University’s journalism school. So I met him in person when we spoke at a WeWork in Harlem. Atul is an easygoing guy. But when we talked about the Loya story, I could see he’s still fired up about it. Even now, years later the difficulty of reporting the story has stuck with him. He did finally hear from a forensic expert, doctor R.K. Sharma. What happened with Doctor Sharma has bothered Atul ever since. 

 

[clip of Atul Dev] I think he was the president, the former president of the Indian Council for Forensic Experts. So this is a highly reliable guy, and I call him and he is the first guy to tell me who’s like, well, you can come to my office. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Atul shared Judge Loya’s medical documents with Doctor Sharma, the same documents we’ve been discussing. When Sharma reviewed them, he said the documents didn’t show a heart attack. In fact, he said the postmortem showed evidence of a physical assault impacting the brain as well as the possibility of poisoning. Here was one of the most decorated forensics experts in the country, saying Loya could have been killed. But then within a month, the state of Maharashtra claimed Doctor Sharma withdrew his statement and he clammed up. One of the many people in the story whose candor was short lived. Atul wound up publishing a whole new article describing his reporting process to show the doctor was in fact quoted correctly and in context. He also shared screenshots of a text message exchange with me that shows he confirmed Doctor Sharma’s quotes with him before printing them. When I reached out to ask Doctor Sharma for comment, I got a response from his daughter saying that Sharma had passed away in 2021. All of this made me eager to speak to an expert who wouldn’t have to worry about the possible consequences of reviewing these records. So we found a forensic pathologist from the US who has worked on cases across the globe. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] My name is Doctor Judy Melinek. I’m a forensic pathologist. I’m board certified in anatomic, clinical, and forensic pathology. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Doctor Melinek has been doing this for more than 20 years. In full disclosure, we did pay Doctor Melinek for her time and professional expertise. When we spoke over Zoom, I could see a microscope and office binders in the background while Doctor Melinek pulled up documents I’d sent her on her phone. She told us she could only make limited conclusions based on the records we have, which are by no means extensive. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] It’s hard to know without reviewing his actual medical records. For me to do a thorough and defensible review, I would ask for number one, the photographs from the autopsy, number two, the medical records from the hospitals, plural. And then I would need um, the microscopic slides. What what they saw under the microscope. 

 

Ravi Gupta: To our knowledge, Loya’s full medical records have never been released. But we worked with what we had. We began by looking at the first test conducted on Judge Loya, the ECG. And Doctor Melinek told us the ECG looked normal. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be dead two hours later. 

 

Ravi Gupta: An ECG will only show what was happening at the very moment it was taken. Which means that if it’s not taken during a critical time, there isn’t much to see. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] Because an ECG is just like a snapshot. It’s a moment in time. Um. It’s showing a few minutes of the tracing and that’s about it. 

 

Ravi Gupta: So the ECG attributed to Loya had no interesting medical information. It was a dead end. Then we moved on to the post mortem. This was the document I was most keen to have Doctor Melinek review. She explained what she had read and some of the autopsy doctors notations. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] It specifically says that there’s evidence of atherosclerosis that’s hardening of the arteries from cholesterol, and there’s narrowing of 100%, meaning that one blood vessel is completely occluded with cholesterol. 

 

Ravi Gupta: One of his arteries was totally blocked and a second artery was 90% blocked. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] The muscle that those blood vessels is feeding is getting either no blood flow or 10% of the available blood flow that it needs in order to survive. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Based on what she read, Doctor Melinek offered a conclusion. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] Well, based on what I’ve reviewed, I would certify this death as complications of Arteriosthorotic cardiovascular disease, which is the fancy way of saying narrowing of the blood vessels from cholesterol deposition and old age. From what I have in front of me, I don’t have any problem saying that this is a cardiac death. 

 

Ravi Gupta: My mind immediately went to Doctor Sharma. If the documents are as straightforward as Doctor Melinek says, how do we reconcile her conclusion with what Sharma told the Caravan? Atul had the same documents we did, minus the ECG from Vivek’s reporting, and we did review Doctor Sharma’s conclusions with Doctor Melinek, including what he said about evidence of head trauma, but she disagreed with a lot of his takeaways. 

 

[clip of Dr. Judy Melinek] There’s no evidence of any trauma to the head or brain. 

 

Ravi Gupta: So I just don’t know. I find Doctor Melinek completely credible, but we can only give her the documents that are publicly available about Judge Loya, and they’re incomplete. As Doctor Melinek said, if she were to give a determination in court, she would want to see a lot more. The question is, how much can we trust the documents? We can’t forget Nikita Saxena’s reporting in the Caravan. She wrote about Doctor Vyawahare, who allegedly oversaw Judge Loya’s postmortem. He had been accused of altering postmortem reports in the past and an investigation by the hospital he worked at found those allegations to be true. And according to Nikita’s reporting, one source said he covered up evidence of a head injury in the Loya report. When Nikita sought comment from Doctor Vyawahar, he denied any involvement in Loya’s postmortem. He repeated that denial to us when we attempted to interview him. The medical records we have for Judge Loya show a natural death. That means if something nefarious happened to Loya, then the documents would likely have to be doctored. And that means Nikita’s reporting about allegations against Doctor Vyawahare is especially important. Setting that aside, I do feel that Doctor Melinek has helped to simplify the evidence that’s relevant here. Talking with Doctor Melinek was perhaps the one moment in reporting this story, when I felt like someone turned on a light. It was nice for once to have someone give straightforward, objective answers, but the clarity was fleeting. Next time. [clip of people talking indistinct in background] Judge Loya’s son, Anuj, talks to the press. 

 

[clip of Anuj Loya] So that time there was suspicion. But now we are clear with it. [indistinct banter from reporters]

 

[unnamed speaker at Anuj’s press conferance] Guys. One minute. 

 

And people could hear what Anuj spoke, but also what Anuj did not speak. 

 

[unnamed speaker at Anuj’s press conferance] [?] questions then nothing more. 

 

Ravi Gupta: Killing Justice is an original podcast from Crooked Media and the Branch media. I’m your host, Ravi Gupta. Our executive producers are me, Ravi Gupta, Katie Long, Ben Rhodes and Alison Falzetta. With special thanks to Sarah Geismer, Madeleine Haeringer, and Kate Malekoff. Our senior producer is Khrista Rypl and Lacey Roberts is our story editor. Raksha Kumar is our consulting producer. Our associate producer is Sydney Rapp. Fact checking by Amy Tardif. Sound design and mixing by Sarah Gibble-Laska. With assistant editing by Nathalie Escudero. And original score by Karim Douaidy. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]