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Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand murder case: Court convicts both accused, sentencing next week

The prosecution had said that the motive of the crime was to snatch the victim’s mobile phone, and that it was a premeditated act that warranted a conviction under IPC Section 302.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) re-creates a scene during their investigation of Additional District Judge Uttam Anand's alleged murder case in Dhanbad (PTI)

A Sessions Court in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad Thursday held two accused guilty of murdering Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand, who was hit by an auto-rickshaw during his morning walk on July 28 last year and succumbed to head injuries later.

The court is likely to pronounce the quantum of the sentence on August 6. The verdict came exactly a year after Judge Anand was killed after the autorickshaw ploughed straight into him on an empty road in Dhanbad.

Additional Sessions Judge Rajni Kant Pathak convicted Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma under sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and under 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The prosecution had said that the motive of the crime was to snatch the victim’s mobile phone, and that it was a premeditated act that warranted a conviction under IPC Section 302. The defence had pleaded that it was not an “intentional hit” and that it attracted only the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

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After the verdict, Defence Counsel Kumar Bimlendu told The Indian Express: “The judge pronounced both the accused guilty of murder. The court took into account the statement of only eye-witness Sharavan Kumar had deposed that the auto knowingly steered towards the judge and hit him leading to his death. The court also relied upon the CFSL report which had stated that both the accused were not under intoxication during the act. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 6.”

The most crucial deposition of the only eye witness Sarban Singh, 53, who worked as a cable man at a BCCL coaliery and had completed his night shift and he left office around 4.50 am on July 28, 2021. He went home Jagjivan Nagar everyday via Randheer Verma Chowk, where the incident took place.

“I saw that one auto rickshaw steered to its left and hit a person intentionally. When I was crossing and saw the man, he was bleeding. Since I have (high) Blood Pressure and also have a heart condition, I did not stop, neither did I raise my voice as I generally panic in such situations,” he deposed before the court.

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He later said that a little further the road near Hatia chowk, a 19 year old person got down and he started at him. He added, “I saw the person in the picture later identified him as Rahul Verma, the person who stepped from the auto,” he further deposed.

The Jharkhand Police had charged two residents of Digwadih in Dhanbad, Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma, under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), and 34 (common intention). The police had suspected the accident to be a premeditated hit-and-run.

The attack on Judge Anand was seen as an “attack on judicial independence” and Chief Justice of India N V Ramana had said that he had spoken to the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court on the matter.

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The Jharkhand government had subsequently handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had re-registered the case and filed the charge sheet in October last year. The sessions court framed charges on February 2 this year, and after 35 hearings, completed the trial. After taking over the investigation of the said case, CBI constituted a Special Investigation Team. The prosecution has examined 58 witnesses.

The CBI also got the brain profiling of both accused done on two occasions, which had irked the Jharkhand High Court, which was monitoring the case. After the first brain profiling that was carried out in September 2021, the result of the test on one of the accused indicated that he had been given an assignment to hit the judge. However, the second test carried out on the same accused in January this year indicated that he was not even present when the incident took place.

The HC had also pulled up the Jharkhand government for running a forensic science lab in Ranchi like it was in a “primitive stage”. Initiallly, samples of both the accused were returned because there was no blood- and urine-testing facility available, and the samples were subsequently sent to CFSL, Delhi. CFSL report later had said that both the accused were not under intoxication, which later bacame one of the key grounds for the conviction.

First published on: 28-07-2022 at 05:37:52 pm
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