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SC steps in, seeks report on probe status as Jharkhand judge's death sparks murder suspicion

·3 min read

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognisance of the "sad demise" of Judge Uttam Anand, who was allegedly mowed down in Dhanbad, and sought a status report within a week from Jharkhand's Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police (DGP) on the progress of their investigation into the incident.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said the Jharkhand High Court would monitor the probe.

The bench, which also comprised Justice Surya Kant, issued notice to all the states in relation to similar cases of alleged attacks on officials of the law. It specifically sought the presence of the Jharkhand Advocate General when it hears the case next week.

Earlier, two persons were arrested in connection with the hit-and-run case in Dhanbad that left Judge Uttam Anand dead during his morning jog, a top police officer said. The arrests were made following the recovery of the three-wheeler involved in the incident, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Dhanbad, Sanjiv Kumar, said.

CCTV footage showed that Anand, district and sessions judge-VIII of Dhanbad court, was jogging on one side of a fairly wide road at Randhir Verma Chowk early on 28 July when a heavy auto-rickshaw veered towards him, hit him from behind and fled the scene. Locals took him to a nearby hospital, where the doctors declared him dead on arrival.

According to sources in the Dhanbad court, Anand, known to be a strict judge, had recently declined bail pleas of some gangsters, and the incident could be a fallout of this decision.

"We have arrested two persons, auto driver Lakhan Verma and his helper Rahul Verma, on the morning of July 29. Rahul Verma, a resident of Digwadih, Dhanbad, was arrested from a tempo stand, while the other person was held in Giridih," the SSP told PTI. He also said that the three-wheeler, recovered from Giridih, is registered in a woman's name.

An FIR was filed in the case after the wife of the 49-year-old deceased judge lodged a complaint with the Dhanbad police. "We are probing the case from all angles, including murder," Kumar asserted.

Later, during a press meet, the SSP said a special investigation team (SIT), led by Dhanbad SP R Ramkumar, is trying to find out more details in the case. A five-member forensic team has also visited the site of the incident during the day to collect samples necessary for the investigation, he noted.

Meanwhile, Dhanbad Bar Association claimed that Anand, who hailed from Hazaribag, was murdered and demanded a thorough probe into the incident. All lawyers of Dhanbad Bar Association will carry out a silent procession on Friday in protest against the murder of Dhanbad judge and demand protection for lawyers from the government, said its president, Amarendra Sahay. Condemning the incident, Jharkhand Bar Council member Hemant Sikarwa demanded a CBI probe into the case.

The Jharkhand High Court has ordered an SIT probe into the death of Anand, under the leadership of additional director general of police Sanjay Latkar. Taking cognisance of a letter filed before the court by the Dhanbad principal district judge in the case, Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan converted it into a writ petition and ordered the formation of the SIT.

He said Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has spoken to him in the matter and expressed confidence that a fair investigation will be carried out in the case. The high court stated it will monitor the probe and sought updates from the SIT from time to time.

If at any point in time it appears to the court that the investigation is not heading in the right direction, then the case will be handed over to the CBI, the chief justice added.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: Watch video: Dhanbad judge succumbs to injuries after autorickshaw hits him from behind

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