The Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognisance of the death of a Dhanbad judge who was hit by a vehicle two days ago, reported NDTV. The court also sought a status report on the investigation from Jharkhand’s Chief Secretary Sukhdev Singh and Director General of Police Niraj Sinha within a week.
The court expressed concern on reports of attacks on judicial officers. “This Dhanbad case has wider ramifications,” Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said. “We are getting reports that judicial officers are being attacked around the country. We intend to examine this and may seek report from all states.”
On Wednesday, a CCTV footage had shown an autorickshaw suddenly swerving towards Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand, who was walking on an empty road, and hitting him. The vehicle then drove away.
The police have registered a murder case and formed a special investigation team to look into the judge’s death. On Thursday, the police arrested the driver of the autorickshaw and his alleged associate.
The Jharkhand High Cout had also taken suo motu cognisance into the incident and ordered an investigation.
On Friday, a Supreme Court bench of Ramana and Justice Surya Kant said the Jharkhand High Court would keep monitoring the investigation.
Issuing notice to all the states, the court specifically sought the presence of Jharkhand Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan when it hears the case next week.
The judge’s wife, Kriti Sinha, had told the police in her complaint that her husband had left the house at 5 am. She said that when he did not return for long, the family started looking for him. As the residents who took him to the hospital did not know who the judge was, his body was later identified by his driver at the hospital.
Justice Anand had been hearing the sensitive murder case of Ranjay Singh, who was a close confidante of former Jharia MLA Sanjiv Singh. The judge had also denied bail to Ravi Thakur, a protégé of infamous Uttar Pradesh shooter Abhinav Singh and Aman Singh, just three days ago.
Prabhat Sinha, a Jharkhand High Court lawyer, has alleged that it was not an accident but a case of murder. “The CCTV footage clearly shows that the auto driver intentionally hit the judge,” he said.
Sahebganj District and Session Judge Bansidhar Tiwari, who is also the secretary of Jharkhand Judicial Service Association, has demanded that the High Court conduct a high-level investigation into the incident. He also claimed that the CCTV footage clearly showed foul play behind Anand’s death.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Banna Gupta has sought a report on the incident from Dhanbad Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar and the senior superintendent of police.
Jharkhand Bar Council member Hemant Sikarwal called the incident “intentional murder” and demanded a CBI investigation into the incident.