Additional district judge Uttam Anand was hit by “an unidentified vehicle” barely half a kilometre from his home in Dhanbad early on Wednesday morning, police said.

Following the “suspicious” death of Dhanbad District Judge Uttam Anand, the judiciary and Bar across the country seem to have been shaken up, especially after initial reports indicated a suspicious an

A district’s judge’s death in Jharkhand took a new turn on Thursday after a close-circuit camera footage emerged that showed a three-wheeler vehicle coming at him and hitting him on a public road. Additional district judge Uttam Anand was hit by “an unidentified vehicle” barely half a kilometre from his home in Dhanbad early on Wednesday, police said. A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to look into the case.

According to latest reports, an autorickshaw driver and his two associates have been arrested.

The incident was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court by senior lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh. Urging the court to take suo motu cognisance of the case, Singh, appearing for the Supreme Court Bar Association, said the killing was a “brazen attack on the judiciary” that needs a CBI investigation.

He said local police are usually complicit in such matters. “A judge is on a morning walk and is hit by a vehicle. He was dealing with bail applications of gangsters. This is an attack on judicial independence,” Singh was quoted as saying by LiveLaw.

Chief Justice NV Ramana said he has had a word with the chief justice of Jharkhand High Court. “The High Court Chief Justice has taken up the issue and the case is now on at the High Court. We are aware of the case and we will take care,” Justice Ramana said.

CCTV footage seems to indicate this was no accident. This was a premeditated attack,” argued Singh, who also pointed out that media reports indicate that there was a person “standing there filming the incident with prior knowledge”.ADVERTISEMENT

“This is an attack on the independence of the judiciary, the SCBA is requesting the court to take cognizance,” Singh told the bench headed by justice DY Chandrachud on Thursday as the court opened for hearing.

Justice Chandrachud, however, asked Singh to approach the CJI with the request as per protocol.

Minutes later, the SCBA president appeared before the CJI-led bench on video conference and pointed out that the situation warranted a “CBI inquiry”.

“If someone is killed like this after rejecting a gangster’s bail, this is a dangerous situation for the judiciary. There should be a CBI inquiry,” said Singh.

CJI NV Ramana however said that he had spoken to the Jharkhand Chief Justice this morning to take stock of the situation.

“The high court has issued notice to the police and district officials. They are hearing this matter today. Let them handle it. It does not require interference by us at this stage. I have spoken to the Chief Justice this morning,” CJI Ramana assured the anxious bar.

The Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice had taken cognizance of the incident on Wednesday evening, and asked senior police and district officials to remain present in the court on Thursday morning to give a report.

The accident took place a little over 5am on Wednesday. The judge was rushed to the city’s medical college by passers-by but doctors said he was dead by the time he was brought. No one knew who he was.

It was only much later when the judge’s family, worried that he had not returned home by 7am, notified the police.

The judge’s driver who accompanied the police team after it was informed of a road accident, identified his body at the hospital.

The judge is reported to have recently rejected the bail plea of an alleged contract killer from Uttar Pradesh, who is in Dhanbad jail in a high-profile murder case. But officials said it was too early to link the order to this case.

Police said the SIT would look at footage from other CCTV cameras on the roads used by the three-wheeler to identify the vehicle and see if there was a pattern.