2 convicted for Dhanbad judge's murder exactly a year after
A special CBI court in Dhanbad on Thursday convicted two accused in the murder case of a Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ). Exactly a year ago, on July 28, 2021, ASJ Uttam Anand was rammed by an auto in Jharkhand's Dhanbad district. In an incident that sparked major security concerns for the judiciary, Anand was mowed down during his morning walk.
The two accused, Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Kumar Verma, were convicted by the District and Additional Sessions Judge for offenses lodged under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 201 (disappearance of evidence), and 34 (common intention). The quantum of sentencing will be announced on August 6. The order by the special court comes on the judge's death anniversary.
To recall, an autorickshaw ploughed into the judge on an empty road near Randheer Prasad Chowk in Dhanbad while he was peacefully jogging on the margins. His death was recorded on a CCTV camera, and the video footage sent shockwaves across the country. The incident was seen as an "attack on judicial independence." He was rushed to the hospital but died around 9 am.
Disturbing CCTV visuals of the vehicle attacking the judge during his morning walk on public road in Dhanbad had emerged yesterday.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 29, 2021
Vikas Singh 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. pic.twitter.com/Lcej07wiEc
As per the post-mortem report, the judge died "due to injuries caused by hard and blunt substance" on the head. Kirti Sinha, the judge's wife, claimed that the auto-driver had hit Anand on the head in a pre-planned manner.
The Jharkhand Police had charged two men with the murder of the judge. In a case of hit-and-run, they were booked under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offense), and 34 (common intention). The case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the High Court took suo-moto cognizance of his death.
The CBI filed its charge sheet in October 2021. The trial was completed in 35 hearings and a sessions court framed charges on February 2, 2021. While CBI had earlier claimed that the accident occurred in a bid to snatch his mobile phone, it was rejected by the Jharkhand High Court. The CBI also recreated the crime scene a number of times.
As per the CBI, the incident seems to be "planned and intentional". They say that Anand was closely followed by the driver, who was waiting for a chance to execute his plan. However, it has still not provided the exact motivation for the crime.
During the course of the investigation, the government agency was pulled up by the HC many times for 'vague' filings. The CBI produced 58 witnesses, along with several doctors, scientists, and forensic experts to substantiate its charges. The agency also had 'brain profiling' done on both the accused at two instances, but results were contradictory. The Supreme Court pulled up the CBI during investigation.
Both the accused had pleaded that they had stolen the said auto in the early hours of July 28, 2021. They took detours from their intended route after spotting police vans and ended up consuming an "intoxicating substance". Denying any conspiracy, the accused say that the accident occurred after a stone came beneath their tyre.