Read order: Court on its own motion v. The State of Jharkhand through the Chief Secretary & Others

Pankaj Bajpai

July 31, 2021: The Jharkhand High Court has directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for a probe into the death of Dhanbad Additional and District Sessions Judge, Uttam Anand, and submit its report by August 3, calling for a speedy investigation into the hit and run incident.

The direction was passed by a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan by taking suo motu cognizance of the issue on July 29 based on a letter sent by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, regarding the “sad and unfortunate demise” of ADSJ Uttam Anand, who was mowed down by an auto rickshaw on Wednesday.

The members of the Bar submitted that the CCTV footage makes it evident that the vehicle, during early morning time when there was no traffic at all on the road, took a sharp bend and approached the judicial officer who was jogging on the footpath on the left side. 

Since the CCTV footage showed that one motor-bike rider who was coming from the opposite side of the auto-rickshaw took a u-turn and watched the judicial officer falling down and thereafter fled, the members of the Bar submitted that the incident was not an accidental death, rather a well conspired killing of the judicial officer who was in the seisin of very sensitive matters. 

Expressing surprise over the fact that the CCTV footage immediately went viral, the Bar questioned as to how the said footage become viral when the CCTV cameras installed in the municipal roads were expected to be under the control of the district administration?  

The DGP, Jharkhand submitted that he will make a sincere endeavor to get hold of the real culprits and also to conduct the investigation in a professional manner to surface the conspiracy, if any, in the murder of the judicial officer concerned.

He further submitted that the SIT will surface out the entire issue since two vital persons, who were boarding the auto-rickshaw, have already been apprehended and proper investigation in a professional manner would be conducted. 

The High Court asked Senior Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad about the proof regarding theft of the auto-rickshaw, as has been said by the owner of the auto-rickshaw, and whether the theft of that auto-rickshaw was ever reported to any police station.

The Court also questioned the Superintendent of Police (City), Dhanbad who is heading the Special Investigating Team, as to whether the two-wheeler rider had been apprehended or not.

During the Court proceedings, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association submitted that the incident of murder of the judicial officer was nothing but an attack on the judicial system of the country and ultimately a brazen attack on the democratic system.

Taking into consideration the fact that the SIT had apprehended two persons on July 28, 2021 as also in view of the submission made by the Advocate General and DGP that a high rank police officer would lead the SIT, the Chief Justice permitted the SIT headed by S.A.Lathkar, ADG (Operation) to investigate the matter in a professional and fruitful manner.

The High Court made it clear that a speedy, fair and professional investigation in the matter is necessitated, and that it will monitor the progress of the case. 

The matter was posted for next hearing on August 3.

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