Dhanbad judge death: SC seeks report from Jharkhand within a week
The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognizance of the death of a judicial officer in Jharkhand on Thursday and sought a status report on the investigation conducted so far from the chief secretary and director general of police (DGP) of the state within a week.
Additional district and sessions judge of Dhanbad Uttam Anand was on his morning walk when he was fatally knocked down by a vehicle on Wednesday.
A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana and justice Surya Kant took suo motu cognizance of the incident and registered the case as “Re: Safeguarding Courts and Protecting Judges (Death of ASJ Dhanbad)”. The Jharkhand high court has already taken suo motu cognizance of the incident on Thursday. The top court clarified that it does not intend to interfere with the proceedings pending before the high court.
The high court took serious note of the incident and asked the police to submit details of the case probe.
The decision of the top court to take cognizance of the incident is seen as an attempt to monitor the progress of the investigation. Hours after the incident took place, the CJI spoke to chief justice of Jharkhand high court, following which the secretary general of the Supreme Court took up the matter with the registrar general of the Jharkhand high court.
The Jharkhand Police have registered a first information report based on CCTV camera footage of the incident. A 14-member special investigation team (SIT) has been constituted, and two persons have since been arrested. The police have alleged that the two were in the auto-rickshaw that caused the accident. The auto-rickshaw was found to be stolen from Dhanbad.
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and senior advocate Vikas Singh mentioned the incident before the CJI and demanded a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). “This is an attack on judicial independence. If judiciary has to remain independent, judges have to be safe. An ADJ cannot be killed in this manner. This matter should be probed by CBI as local police can be complicit,” he said.
Suspecting it could be a murder, Singh said that the ADJ had recently rejected the bail of a notorious gangster and the matter needed to be probed.
The CJI had appreciated the concern shown by the Bar and said that the situation is being monitored by the high court and if there is any need for the top court to intervene, it will.
The disturbing CCTV camera visual of the incident showed how the vehicle in question swerved to the direction of ADJ Anand knocking him down on the road. Looking at the visuals, Singh had said, “There cannot be a more brazen attack on a judge than this. Any judge in this country can be attacked. This is a serious matter.”