The Dhanbad police have recovered the auto rickshaw that hit the additional district and sessions judge Uttam Anand that led to his death on Wednesday morning and arrested two persons who were allegedly riding the vehicle at the time of the incident.
The police on Thursday also formed a 14-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by additional director general of police Sanjay Anand Lathkar to investigate the matter after the Jharkhand high court on Thursday took suo motu cognizance of the incident. Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana too spoke to the chief justice of the Jharkand high court Ravi Ranjan on the issue.
Director general of police Neeraj Sinha and Dhanbad senior superintendent of police Sanjeev Kumar attended the hearing in the high court in person and provided details of the investigation to the bench of the chief justice.
“Prima facie it appears that the additional district judge has been killed deliberately. The police took immediate action and arrested the two persons who were riding the vehicle and recovered the auto rickshaw. Their interrogation is on. A 14-member SIT has also been constituted to investigate the incident. It is a very sensitive matter and we will ensure that probe is completed and conduct a speedy trial and punish the guilty,” said Jharkhand advocate general Rajiv Ranjan, who appeared on behalf of the government before the high court.
Responding to the bench’s remark that it would transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation if the investigation was not done professionally, the AG said while it was prerogative of the court to do this, the progress in investigation after the incident has been satisfactory.
The police have filed a murder case in the incident after CCTV camera footage of the incident showed a vehicle deliberately swerving on an empty road to knock down the judge. Uttam Anand was killed on Wednesday morning after he was hit by an unidentified vehicle near the magistrate colony when he was out for his daily morning walk. The auto rickshaw used in the incident, which was allegedly stolen from Dhanbad, was later recovered from the neighbouring Giridh district on Wednesday night itself.
“Based on facts that came up during investigation and the CCTV camera footage, two people and the auto involved in the crime were identified. Two persons, identified as Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Verma have been arrested and the auto was seized from their possession. They have confessed to the crime. Further investigation will be done carefully,” said Amol V Homkar, inspector general (operations).
While the police are yet to reveal the motive of the alleged killers, the family of the judge, who was cremated in his hometown Hazaribag, demanded a CBI probe. “The CCTV camera footage makes it very clear that it has been done as part of conspiracy. We demand an impartial probe headed by a judge or the CBI,” Subham Sambhu, younger brother of Anand told reporters.
Judge Anand was reportedly hearing some high profile criminal cases. He recently rejected the bail plea of a gangster from Uttar Pradesh who is in jail in connection with a high profile murder case of Dhanbad.
In Delhi, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and senior advocate Vikas Singh made a demand for an independent probe by CBI into the death of Anand.
Mentioning the matter before the Supreme Court, initially before a bench headed by Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and later before CJI NV Ramana, Singh said: “This is an attack on judicial independence. If judiciary has to remain independent, judges have to be safe. An ADJ cannot be killed in this manner. This matter should be probed by CBI as local police can be complicit.”
CJI Ramana who specially took up the case told the SCBA President that he has spoken to chief justice Ravi Ranjan of Jharkhand high court, who assured him that the matter will be taken up by the high court on the judicial side. “The chief justice f the high court has spoken to Senior Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad. Even the secretary general (of the Supreme Court) spoke to registrar general of the high court this morning. If there is any need for us to be involved, we will take it up.”
The CJI appreciated the concern shown by the Bar saying, “We are overwhelmed at the initiative shown by SCBA. We appreciate the steps taken but let us not jump into conclusions.”
Suspecting it to be a murder, Singh said that the ADJ recently rejected the bail of a notorious gangster and the matter needed probe.