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Law

Jharkhand HC Expresses Displeasure at Pace of CBI Probe Into Dhanbad Judge’s Death

A division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad said it appeared that the driver of the heavy autorickshaw had intentionally hit Uttam Anand.

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New Delhi: The Jharkhand high court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over the Central Bureau of Investigation’s slow progress in the probe into the death of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad said it appeared that the driver of the heavy autorickshaw had intentionally hit the judge, and asked the central probe agency whether it had interrogated the bike rider who passed by the judge and then left the spot.

The judge’s death had shocked the Supreme Court, with Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana later saying that central agencies are not ‘helping the judiciary at all’, while hearing a suo motu case about providing protection to judges.

Referring to Anand’s death, the CJI said, “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.”

After the additional district judge was killed early on July 28, grim CCTV footage showed Anand jogging on one side of a fairly wide road at Randhir Verma Chowk. A vehicle veered towards him, hit him from behind and sped away. This raised suspicions that the killing was intentional and not a case of hit-and-run.

Some locals found Anand lying in a pool of blood and took him to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him dead on arrival.

The Jharkhand high court, expressing displeasure over the progress in the investigation, ordered the CBI to furnish a status report of the investigation so far in the case. The court will hear the matter again after a week.

During the hearing, the bench said that the report shows that the auto driver has deliberately hit the judge. “This did not happen suddenly because of intoxication,” the bench said.

The court asked the CBI whether it has questioned the bike rider who passed by the judge after he was hit by the auto and left the spot. The investigating officer of the CBI said that the man was interrogated and released. He claimed to have high blood pressure and told the agency that the sight of blood makes him nervous.

To this, the court asked whether the CBI has examined the documents regarding the man’s medical history. The bench directed CBI to conduct a thorough investigation of the bike rider saying it is necessary as he works in a colliery.

Both the Supreme Court and the high court of Jharkhand had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident.

The Central Bureau of Investigation took over the case on August 4. Five days after that, the apex court directed the central probe agency to file weekly reports to the high court on the progress of the investigation.

During the hearing, the Jharkhand high court also expressed unhappiness over the lack of appointments in the Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) in the state capital. The bench said the Jharkhand Public Services Commission (JPSC) ought to have taken steps to ensure appointments in the FSL.

“Lack of appointments in the FSL has rendered it non-functional,” the bench said.

The court said that posts have been created since 2011 but they are lying vacant for about a decade.

The counsel for the JPSC informed the court that steps are being taken to make appointments in the FSL.

(With PTI inputs)