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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that the Intelligence Bureau and Central Bureau of Investigation have not been helping the judiciary at all when it comes to threats made to and verbal abuse of judges and judicial officers.
A judicial officer does not even have the freedom to make such complaints, the court held.
The apex court said there are several criminal cases involving gangsters and high-profile persons and at some places, judges of the trial courts as well as high courts are being threatened not only physically but also mentally through abusive messages on Whatsapp or Facebook.
“In one or two places, the court ordered CBI inquiry. It is very sorry to say that CBI has done nothing in more than one year. At one place, I know, CBI has done nothing. I think we have expected some changes in CBI’s attitude. But there is no change in the attitude of CBI. I am sorry to observe this but this is the situation,” said Chief Justice N.V. Ramana.
The CJI was heading a bench which also comprised Justice Surya Kant.
The bench told Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that if high-profile persons do not get expected orders from the court in criminal cases, they start maligning the judiciary.
“This is a new trend developed in the country unfortunately. There is no freedom to a judge even to give a complaint. Such a situation is created, said the bench, which was hearing a suo motu case on the issue of safeguarding courts and protecting judges in the wake of recent incident of the alleged murder of the judge at Dhanbad.
District and Sessions Judge-8 of Dhanbad court, Uttam Anand, was out on morning walk on July 28 when he was killed by an auto-rickshaw at Randhir Verma Chowk near the district court in the Sadar police station area.
On July 30, the top court took suo motu cognisance and sought a status report within a week from Jharkhand’s Chief Secretary and the DGP on the probe, saying reports and video clippings suggested it was not a case of simple road accident.
The bench described the death of the judge as the “state’s failure.”
“Look at the unfortunate case of the death of a young judge. It’s the state’s failure. This area has coal mafias and security should have been provided to the society and residences of judges,” the CJI said, according to Indian Express.
The CJI said though judges’ complain to the Chief Justice or the concerned head of the district, when they complain to the police or the CBI or others, these agencies do not respond.
“They think it is not a priority item for them. The IB, CBI they are not helping the judiciary at all. I am making this statement with a sense of responsibility and I know the incident that is the reason I am saying this. I do not want to divulge more than this,” the CJI said.
The bench termed the issue serious and told Venugopal that some interest has to be taken to help the judiciary. Venugopal said judges dealing with criminal cases are very vulnerable and said there has to be safety measures for them.
He added that judges are more vulnerable than bureaucrats who take decisions from within their rooms and that he would file a written note on the issue.
Meanwhile, the bench issued notice to the CBI after it was informed by the Jharkhand government that investigation into the death of the judge in Dhanbad has been handed over to the probe agency.
The apex court also asked all the states to file status reports explaining what security they are providing to judicial officers.
Jharkhand’s advocate general Rajiv Ranjan told the bench that the state had constituted a 22-member special investigation team (SIT) which had arrested the two drivers of the auto-rickshaw which had hit the judge when he was on morning walk on July 28.
Ranjan said the case has now been handed over to the CBI.
“So, you have washed off your hands?” the bench said.
To this, Ranjan said SIT had collected several evidence and since the area is a border district with West Bengal, there might be a larger conspiracy and cross-border implications.
“We will hear the Jharkhand matter on Monday (August 9). We are issuing notice to the CBI,” the bench said.
It asked Jharkhand’s counsel whether they have provided adequate security at the residence of judges in the state.
The counsel said orders have been issued and adequate police protection has been provided at the residences and colonies of the judicial officers.
Referring to the Dhanbad incident, the bench said it is an unfortunate case where a young judicial officer lost his life.
“We cannot ignore the state’s negligence. We know in Dhanbad area there are mafias, coal mafias. Advocates were killed, judges were attacked but in spite of that, state has not done anything,” the bench observed.
The state’s counsel apprised the bench about the steps being taken in this regard and also about beefing up of security in court premises by installing more CCTV cameras and having boundary walls.
The bench observed that hardened criminals cannot be stopped by these boundary walls.
During the hearing, the bench told Venugopal that a writ petition was filed in the apex court in 2019 seeking certain directions, including on security in court premises and also to create an environment where the judges can work independently.
“In that case, it appears that government of India has not filed any counter affidavit so far,” the bench said.
When Venugopal said he would look into it, the bench asked him to ensure that counter affidavit is filed so that the court can take a final call in the matter.
The petition filed in 2019 was also taken up for hearing by the bench along with the suo motu case.
The apex court asked the states to file status report regarding security provided to the judges and posted it for hearing on August 17.
(With PTI inputs)