The Chief Justice of India has called for an “urgent investigation” into the murder of a judge who had been handling cases of mafia killings in Jharkhand in eastern India and had recently also rejected the bail pleas of two gangsters.
However, the family of Judge Uttam Anand — who is alleged to have been “deliberately” hit by an autorickshaw driver while he was on his morning run around 5 am on Wednesday — has claimed that the police delayed changing the case from an ‘accident’ to ‘murder.’
NV Ramana, the chief justice of India, meanwhile said that he has spoken to the Jharkhand High Court for an urgent investigation after an uproar in the Supreme Court today.
Judge Uttam Anand’s death was initially believed to be a hit-and-run, however, security camera footage has revealed that the driver “deliberately” hit him.
Police have said that the autorickshaw was stolen an hour before the incident. He was hit just half a kilometre from his home in Dhanbad.
So far, two people — including the auto-rickshaw driver and his associate, Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Verma — have been arrested by the police. Amol Vinukant Homkar, Inspector General told the media that the auto was also seized. And that the two “have confessed.”
The Jharkhand High Court, meanwhile, has taken offence at Judge Anand’s family’s assertion that there was a delay in police action.
The CCTV footage that surfaced online shows the auto hitting the judge and fleeing from the spot immediately. Several judges and lawyers have also cast their doubt on the authenticity of the footage, claiming that it was “not normal CCTV” and that it was recorded “deliberately for circulation.”
Justice MR Shah was quoted by NDTV saying: “Who shot the video?”
LiveLaw reported that the incident was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court today morning by Vikas Singh, the Supreme Court Bar Association President. During an informal discussion over the matter, Mr Singh said that the footage was not authentic CCTV footage. “This is very brazen. They want to record it and circulate it. It’s not just any CCTV camera because you can hear voices while that is being recorded.”
He also told the Supreme Court that “a person was seen zooming the visuals as if to ascertain if the judge was killed and it was shocking.”
Judge Anand was found by a passerby lying on the side of the road, bleeding. Police said that the passerby took him to the hospital where he later died.
His family had also registered a missing person case around 7am at a local police station when Judge Anand didn’t come home at his usual time.
When police finally tracked him and declared him dead, they registered it initially as a hit-and-run case. But after the CCTV footage, the police are treating this as a murder case.
The Jharkhand Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan warned that if the police didn’t do a satisfactory job, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — India’s foremost investigatory body — shall be asked to investigate the matter. Mr Singh also called for a CBI probe.
Judge Anand’s father, Sadanand Prasad was quoted by News18 as saying: “I hope that the culprit is caught and punished at the earliest.”
On social media, meanwhile, the murder of Judge Anand led to anger and outrage. One user tweeted: “The system has totally collapsed. Hope @JharkhandPolice will take [the] strictest action.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies