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New Delhi: A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to probe the death of additional sessions and district judge Uttam Anand in Dhanbad, after CCTV footage showed that an auto swerved sharply and hit him while he was on his morning jog.
According to Hindustan Times, the hit-and-run incident took place a little after 5 am on Wednesday. Though bystanders rushed Judge Anand to a medical college, doctors declared him dead on arrival. The body was not identified for a while, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the judge’s family notified the police when he did not return home by 7 am. The judge’s driver accompanied the police team to the hospital, after they were informed of a road accident, and identified the body at.
The Supreme Court has taken note of the judge’s death.
“I have constituted an SIT led by the city SP who will look into all possible reasons. The CCTV footage and all related aspects would be analysed and identify the vehicle. We have respected the victim’s family members to file a complaint and we will register an FIR,” said Dhanbad senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sanjeev Kumar, according to Hindustan Times.
According to The Telegraph, the judge had recently rejected the bail petitions of two members of a gang based in Uttar Pradesh, who are accused in a high-profile murder case. However, the police said it is too soon to establish any connections between the bail hearing and the ostensible ‘accident’.
Prabhat Sinha, a lawyer at the Jharkhand high court told the Indian Express that the ‘accident’ is a clear case of murder. “The CCTV footage clearly shows that the auto driver intentionally hitting the judge,” he said.
The issue was brought up in the Supreme Court on Thursday morning by senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, according to LiveLaw, who called it a ‘brazen attack on the judiciary’.
“This is a matter which should go to the CBI. Local police is usually complicit in such matters. It is shocking. A judge is on a morning walk and is hit by a vehicle. He was dealing with bail applications of gangsters. This is attack on judicial independence” : Vikas Singh.
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 29, 2021
While the issue was first mentioned before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, it was later mentioned before the Chief Justice of India’s bench. CJI N.V. Ramana said that he had spoken to the Jharkhand high court’s chief justice, who will take up the case.
“Now he’s [Jharkhand HC chief justice] directed officers to be in court and matter is going on there. Leave it there. If it’s necessary then we will involve, but if we involve at this stage unnecessarily,” CJI Ramana said, according to LiveLaw.
Singh claimed that the footage showing the judge being hit was not from a CCTV camera, but that it was shot by a videocamera.
After the matter was mentioned before the CJI, Singh appeared before the Justice Chandrachud-led bench to argue another case that was listed for hearing.
Justice M.R. Shah, who was part of the bench headed by Justice Chandrachud, asked Singh why video of the incident was shot, as it could be used as evidence.
Singh said persons involved in this wanted to terrorise people by shooting the video.
“This is tyranny. This was brazen and they wanted to terrorise people. The video is not shot from any CCTV cameras but from a video camera as people can be heard talking and it was even zoomed in several times,” he said.
When Justice Shah said what could be the reason behind the incident, Singh said the judicial officer had passed unpleasant bail order against some gangster.
“Anyway, I have mentioned this before the CJI, who said that he has talked to the chief justice of the Jharkhand high court. The chief justice of the high court is taking up the matter on the judicial side,” Singh said.
(With PTI inputs)