Jharkhand government recommends CBI probe in judge’s death
The police filed a murder case in the incident after CCTV footage of the incident showed a vehicle deliberately swerving on an empty road to knock down the judge on Wednesday morning while he was out for a morning jog.
The Jharkhand government on Saturday recommended handing over the probe into the death of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand, who died in the coal city on July 28 after being hit by an auto-rickshaw while he was on his morning walk, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“The death incident of judge Uttam Anand has been transferred to CBI for further probe. Chief minister Hemant Soren has given his consent,” a statement from the chief minister’s office said.
The police filed a murder case in the incident after CCTV footage of the incident showed a vehicle deliberately swerving on an empty road to knock down the judge on Wednesday morning while he was out for a morning jog. The auto-rickshaw used in the incident, which was allegedly stolen from Dhanbad, was later recovered from the neighbouring Giridih district on Wednesday night.
“Two persons, identified as Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Verma have been arrested and the auto was seized from their possession,” Amol V Homkar, inspector general of police (operations), said. “They have confessed to the crime. Further investigation will be done carefully,” Homkar added.
The decision to recommend a CBI probe comes a day after a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, took suo motu (on its own) cognizance of the incident and directed the Jharkhand chief secretary and director general of police to submit a complete report in a week.
Registering the suo motu case as ‘In Re: Safeguarding Courts and Protecting Judges (Death of Additional Sessions Judge, Dhanbad)’, the court termed the incident “unfortunate”, adding: “This gruesome incident has been widely reported in newspapers, and video clippings of the incident are also being circulated on social media platforms, suggesting that it was not a case of simplicitor road accident.”
The court said in its order: “Having regard to the seriousness of the issue and its larger ramifications, we direct the chief secretary and director general of police, state of Jharkhand to jointly submit a status report of inquiry vis-a-vis the sad demise of the judicial officer, Shri Uttam Anand, with the registry of this court within a week’s time.”
In addition to the incident in Jharkhand, the court said, it was concerned with the larger issues pertaining to safety and security of judicial officers. “It has been brought to the notice of this court that similar incidents are happening across the country. Taking into consideration the duty and obligation of the State to create an environment and accord full protection to judicial officers as well as the legal fraternity so that they can perform their duties fearlessly, we deem it appropriate to take up this matter suo motu,” said the bench.
The lawyers across Jharkhand had on Friday abstained from judicial work on the call of all 37 bar associations including 24 district bar associations, 12 sub divisional bar associations and one Advocates Association at Jharkhand High Court to protest against judge’s death and an advocate’s murder in the state.
The lawyers also demanded implementation of Advocates Protection Act.
Anand’s family, which also demanded a CBI probe, met Soren in his office on Friday.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT), led by additional director general Sanjay Anand Lathkar, has been probing the case since Friday. However, the police are yet to reveal the motive of the arrested accused.