The Chief Justice of India has called for an “urgent investigation” into the murder of a judge who had been handling cases of mafia killings in Jharkhand in eastern India and had recently also rejected the bail pleas of two gangsters.
However, the family of Judge Uttam Anand — who is alleged to have been “deliberately” hit by an autorickshaw driver while he was on his morning run around 5 am on Wednesday — has claimed that the police delayed changing the case from an ‘accident’ to ‘murder.’
NV Ramana, the chief justice of India, meanwhile said that he has spoken to the Jharkhand High Court for an urgent investigation after an uproar in the Supreme Court today.
Judge Uttam Anand’s death was initially believed to be a hit-and-run, however, security camera footage has revealed that the driver “deliberately” hit him.
Police have said that the autorickshaw was stolen an hour before the incident. He was hit just half a kilometre from his home in Dhanbad.
So far, two people — including the auto-rickshaw driver and his associate, Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Verma — have been arrested by the police. Amol Vinukant Homkar, Inspector General told the media that the auto was also seized. And that the two “have confessed.”
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh mentions the murder of Additional District Judge Uttam Anand in Dhanbad.
"It is a brazen attack on judiciary", Vikas Singh mentions before the bench of the Justice DY Chandrahcud. pic.twitter.com/hRT2NamBw0
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 29, 2021
The Jharkhand High Court, meanwhile, has taken offence at Judge Anand’s family’s assertion that there was a delay in police action.
The CCTV footage that surfaced online shows the auto hitting the judge and fleeing from the spot immediately. Several judges and lawyers have also cast their doubt on the authenticity of the footage, claiming that it was “not normal CCTV” and that it was recorded “deliberately for circulation.”
Additional District & Sessions Judge, Dhanbad Uttam Anand gets run over during his morning walk under suspicious circumstances. The judge was dealing with a few high-profile murder cases from the area and had recently rejected bail petitions of a few criminals. TRIGGER WARNING pic.twitter.com/FFia9usXQc
— Nalini (@nalinisharma_) July 28, 2021
Justice MR Shah was quoted by NDTV saying: “Who shot the video?”
LiveLaw reported that the incident was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court today morning by Vikas Singh, the Supreme Court Bar Association President. During an informal discussion over the matter, Mr Singh said that the footage was not authentic CCTV footage. “This is very brazen. They want to record it and circulate it. It’s not just any CCTV camera because you can hear voices while that is being recorded.”
He also told the Supreme Court that “a person was seen zooming the visuals as if to ascertain if the judge was killed and it was shocking.”
FIR registered u/s 302 IPC (murder). SIT, headed by City SP Dhanbad, formed. CID & FSL team deputed to help them in investigation. Probe on, under supervision of Sr SP Dhanbad & DIG Bokaro: Amol Vinukant Homkar, IG(Ops)on murder of Addl Dist Judge Uttam Anand in Dhanbad,Jharkhand pic.twitter.com/WVimo0W5bg
— ANI (@ANI) July 29, 2021
Judge Anand was found by a passerby lying on the side of the road, bleeding. Police said that the passerby took him to the hospital where he later died.
His family had also registered a missing person case around 7am at a local police station when Judge Anand didn’t come home at his usual time.
When police finally tracked him and declared him dead, they registered it initially as a hit-and-run case. But after the CCTV footage, the police are treating this as a murder case.
Jharkhand: Dhanbad judge dies after being hit by a vehicle, police launch murder investigation https://t.co/DanN5BV9yW
CCTV footage showed a three-wheeler suddenly swerving towards judge Uttam Anand, who was walking on an empty road, and hitting him.
— scroll.in (@scroll_in) July 29, 2021
The Jharkhand Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan warned that if the police didn’t do a satisfactory job, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — India’s foremost investigatory body — shall be asked to investigate the matter. Mr Singh also called for a CBI probe.
Judge Anand’s father, Sadanand Prasad was quoted by News18 as saying: “I hope that the culprit is caught and punished at the earliest.”
On social media, meanwhile, the murder of Judge Anand led to anger and outrage. One user tweeted: “The system has totally collapsed. Hope @JharkhandPolice will take [the] strictest action.”