On July 28, 2021, Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand died preceding an alleged hit and run accident. The incident took place near his house when Mr Anand was out for his morning walk, and an auto-rickshaw hit him from behind, following which it drove away. Mr Anand was hospitalized by a passer-by, where he succumbed to his injuries.
The accident is suspecting to be a case of hit and run until the CCTV footage of the accident was recovered, leading to a murder investigation. The video footage shows that the three-wheeler swerved in the Judge’s direction and drove away after knocking him down. A Special Investigations Team [SIT] is formed by the Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, to investigate the death of the Additional Session District judge.
On July 31, 2021, Jharkhand’s Chief Minister Hemant Soren even took to Twitter to announce his decision to order a CBI probe into the matter.
An officer-in-charge of Jharkhand’s Pathardih Police Station, Umesh Manjhi, is also suspended for not registering the concerned FIR on time. Sanjeev Kumar, Dhanbad SSP, has confirmed the same. The alleged murder of the Judge is a massive concern over the threats faced by the members of the Judiciary, especially by the trial judges across the country.
The Supreme Court has taken up a Suo moto cognizance of Mr Anand’s demise, titled ‘In Re: Safeguarding courts and protecting [death of Additional Session Judge, Dhanbad]. Also, the bench led by the Chief Justice of India has expressed its concern over the stressful working conditions and threats amidst which the trial judges have to function.
“The Dhanbad case has wider ramifications. We are getting reports that judicial officers are under attack across the country. We want to examine this issue and may seek reports from the state.” Said the Chief Justice of India.
The Jharkhand Government and the Director-General of Police are asked to submit the required documents and affidavits by the Supreme Court within the week. Also, the Supreme Court has declared the Suo moto would not interfere or hamper with the probe issued by the Jharkhand High Court into the Judge’s death.
According to a source in Special Investigations Team [SIT], the three-wheeler drivers were under the influence of a sedative, Nitrosun 10 — a drug prescribed for patients suffering from anxiety disorders and illicit alcohol.
As per police sources, four men were arrested, including the vehicle driver, the shopkeeper who sold them the drug, and the vehicle owner.