Updated: July 31, 2021 7:48:29 am
Taking suo motu cognisance of the death of Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand in an alleged hit-and-run incident, the Supreme Court said Friday that the “gruesome incident” has “larger ramifications”. The court said it will address larger questions of security for judges across the country.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant directed the Jharkhand Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) to jointly submit a report in a week’s time on the status of the investigation into the incident.
“Having regard to the seriousness of the issue and its larger ramifications, we direct the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, State of Jharkhand to jointly submit a status report of inquiry vis-a-vis the sad demise of the Judicial Officer Shri Uttam Anand, with the Registry of this Court within a week’s time,” the bench said.
“It has been brought to the notice of this Court that similar incidents are happening across the country. Taking into consideration the duty and obligation of the State to create an environment and accord full protection to judicial officers as well as the legal fraternity so that they can perform their duties fearlessly, we deem it appropriate to take up this matter suo motu,” it said.
It said “as there is an urgent need for wider consideration and consequential detailed explanation(s) by all concerned, we will consider the desirability of issuing notice to all other States and Union Territories on the next date of hearing”.
The bench said it “is cognizant of the fact that the High Court of Jharkhand has taken note of the nature of the incident and has initiated necessary action to ensure that the State Government protects the law and order situation within and outside the Court premises”.
Making it “very clear” that by registering the suo motu case ‘In Re: Safeguarding courts and protecting judges (death of Additional Sessions Judge, Dhanbad)’, it said “we are not interfering in the proceedings going on before the High Court of Jharkhand”.
Fixing August 6 as the date for the next hearing, it directed the Advocate General of Jharkhand to remain present in the court that day.
On Thursday, the High Court set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the death of ASJ Uttam Anand who was on a morning run Wednesday when he was knocked down by an autorickshaw that veered sharply towards him on an empty road.
Although it was initially thought to have been an accident, CCTV visuals gave room for suspicion that it may have been a premeditated crime.
In the Supreme Court, the matter was raised before the bench of CJI Ramana and Justice Surya Kant by senior advocate Vikas Singh, president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), who had earlier described the incident as an “attack on judicial independence”.
“I spoke to the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court. He has taken up the case and all officers are asked to be present. Now leave it there. If it’s necessary, then we will involve (ourselves),” the CJI told Singh.
Singh sought a CBI probe to find out if the hit-and-run was a “murder” in retaliation for the judge rejecting the “bail applications of gangsters”. The bench asked him not to draw conclusions. “We are aware of it. Let the HC look at it”, the CJI said.
Dhanbad court records show that the 36 orders passed by ASJ Anand in July also covered cases of alleged sexual harassment, sale of fake lottery tickets and the alleged diversion of scholarships meant for minority school students, which was investigated by The Indian Express.
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