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Dhanbad judge death case: Jharkhand High Court takes suo motu cognizance of case

Advocate General has submitted that since the Special Investigating Team has been constituted and two vital persons have been apprehended, therefore, at this stage matter may not be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation otherwise it will have a demoralizing effect upon the police force of the State.

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The Jharkhand High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the death of a district Judge in Dhanbad, who was mowed down in a road accident on Wednesday when he was out on a morning walk.

The division bench of Chief Justice Dr. Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad on the basis of the letter by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Dhanbad regarding the demise of Uttam Anand and the CCTV footage called upon the Advocate General, Director General of Police, Jharkhand, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Dhanbad and Superintendent of Police (City), Dhanbad and Rajiv Sinha, learned Additional Solicitor General of India.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Dhanbad has submitted in the course of hearing that two persons have been apprehended. One of them is an auto-rickshaw driver and the other is the person who was in in the vehicle. Interrogation is being done by the Special Investigating Team constituted by him.

The members of the Bar have also appeared and submitted before us that the incident, in which a judicial officer has been killed, cannot be taken as a simple case of accident or murder rather the investigation is required to be conducted by the investigating agency on the angle that there may be a conspiracy for the killing of the judicial officer as, according to them, the judicial officer concerned was in the seisin of very sensitive matters. They further submitted that after watching such CCTV footage it does not appear to be an accidental death, rather it appears that it is a well-conspired killing of the judicial officer that too just adjacent to the residence of the judicial officers in the town of Dhanbad.

The occurrence is nothing but a brazen attack on the justice delivery system perhaps to give some message across the country therefore, it is a fit case where the investigation is required to be handed over to the Central Agency i.e., Central Bureau of Investigation, claimed the Bar.

Vikas Singh, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, had prayed to provide him a link to appear in this case. Such link was provided to him and in pursuance thereto, Singh appeared during the Court proceeding and has submitted that the incident of murder of the judicial officer is nothing but an attack on the judicial system of the country and ultimately a brazen attack of our democratic system. As such, he contended that the matter is required to be investigated by the CBI.

Advocate General has submitted that since the Special Investigating Team has been constituted and two vital persons have been apprehended, therefore, at this stage matter may not be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation otherwise it will have a demoralizing effect upon the police force of the State.

The Director General of Police, Jharkhand  in furtherance to the submission made by Advocate General argued that a higher ranking police officer of the State would lead the Special Investigating Team and he has suggested the name of Sanjay A. Lathkar, IPS, now ADG (Operation), Jharkhand.

The Jharkhand DGP apprised the Court that he will take all sincere endeavors to get hold of real culprits as also to conduct the investigation in a professional manner to surface the conspiracy, if any, in the murder of the judicial officer concerned. The Special Investigating Team will surface out the entire thing since two vital persons, who were boarding the auto-rickshaw, have already been apprehended and proper investigation in a professional manner would be conducted, added the DGP.

The High Court after hearing the submission directed the Director-General of Police, Jharkhand to immediately issue an appropriate order/direction for heading the Special Investigating Team by Sanjay A. Lathkar, IPS, ADG (Operation), Jharkhand.

The newly-appointed head of the Special Investigating Team will immediately take over the investigation and conduct the investigation in a professional manner and submit its progress report on August 3, said the Court.

Also Read: Delhi High Court issues notice to Centre, Delhi government on Chaalak Shakti’s plea regarding compulsion of uniform for auto-rickshaw drivers

“We make it clear that this Court wants a speedy, fair, and professional investigation in the matter, as such, this Court will monitor the progress of the case and that is the reason we are posting this case on 03.08.2021 to look into the progress in the matter to come to the conclusion for the continuation of the investigation by the Special Investigating Team or to hand it over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. We further make it clear that apprehending a pawn is meaningless unless the conspiracy is fully uncovered and the mastermind is nabbed. Time would be the essence of the matter in this investigation. Delay as well as any flaw in the investigation may eventually affect the trial adversely. We are directing the S.I.T. to submit a report on the next date of hearing. Let an affidavit be filed disclosing as to when the information regarding the occurrence was received by the police and the time when the F.I.R. was registered. Let information be also given to us as to whether the procedure of post mortem was video-graphed or not”, the order reads.

The High Court while posting the matter on August 03, 2021  directed the Director General of Police, Jharkhand to apprise the Court about the graph rate of the crime in the State of Jharkhand after January 2020.

It is pertinent to note that the Supreme Court on Friday took suo motu cognizance of the matter and directed the state’s Chief Secretary and Director General of Police to submit a status report on the probe into it within a week.

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