Specific Probe Required in Dhanbad Judge Death Case: HC to CBI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the case of the demise of Dhanbad District and Sessions Judge Uttam Anand’s primary reason is hit-and-run by an auto. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court had taken suo motu cognization of the case, and the Supreme Court had instructed the CBI to record a status report every week with the high court.

Dhanbad Case

In August 2021, the Investigation Officer of the case appeared before the division seat of Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad. They directed him to conduct a test expertly and submit a report. The court also directed the government to take appropriate steps for the Dhanbad court and the concerned Judges.

In September, Jharkhand High Court has conveyed disappointment over the CBI’s insufficiency to perceive three people who had regrettably crossed the site where Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand died from hitting from auto in July, inciting his passing. A bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Sujit Narayan Prasad noted: “We are puzzled that the CBI had not had the option to perceive three individuals who crossed the site [where the Judge was pounded down]. CBI is a specialist agency, yet… we are angry with them.”

Examining the status report submitted by the CBI, the court on 7 October furthermore noted that the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report of the urine and blood examination of the auto driver and his accomplice, who has been apprehended, shows that they were “not intoxicated.” The court heavily slammed the Jharkhand government when it discovered that 60% of positions in the FSL are empty, terming the issue as a matter of embarrassment and humiliation.

The state government informed the court that it would fill every vacant position in the Forensic State Laboratory (FSL) until this year. Compulsory reserves are required, which will be required to fill up positions in the FSL as reported by the government pleader. The court fixed a three-month cut-off time to fill the vacant positions in the FSL and prompted that dreadful orders would be passed if the government failed to comply with the time constraint.

Footage from a CCTV near the mishap site raised uncertainty about the occurrence as the three-wheeler is seen moving towards the extreme left from the middle of the road and hitting the judge from behind before fleeing the spot. Anand was announced dead at the Hospital’s emergency ward on 28 July, about an hour after he was hit behind near Randhir Verma Square in Dhanbad while he was out for a morning walk.

The Judge had heard the murder case of Ranjay Singh, who was close to ex-Jharia MLA Sanjiv Singh. He had denied bail to Ravi Thakur, a protégé of famous Uttar Pradesh shooter Abhinav Singh and Aman Singh, just before his death. While hearing a suo motu matter, the Supreme Court had mentioned that the Centre has to discover ways of getting Judges secured and to provide the assurance of the security of the courts. The court said that it is important that judges’ security ought not to be left to the states.

On Friday, the Jharkhand High Court said the examination report submitted by the CBI is uncertain and not acceptable and mentioned the agency to be expressed in its examination concerning the Dhanbad Judge murder case.  The two accused who have been apprehended have acknowledged their relationship with a few people under the CBI scanner. It is, regardless, too early to divulge the names, and more confirmation is expected, the prosecutor said. The next date of the case is 21 October.

On 17 August, the Supreme Court was informed by the government that it was “not prudent” to create a separate Central Security Agency for the protection of Judges and Courts. The government said that the security of courts could be “better done by the States.” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana that these safety issues differ from State to State. The State police would be better prepared to calculate the needs of the same in the subordinate courts. They will deal better while shifting the prisoners, protecting witnesses, and other pivotal roles inside court premises. The Ministry of Home Affairs had provided broad rules to the States to adhere to while securing courts and the judges. Mr. Mehta also said that ‘police’ is a State subject under the Indian Constitution.