Thursday, March 14, 2024

Has the case concerning murder of Judge Uttam Anand been solved?

On March 14, 2024, CBI informed the Jharkhand High Court that no significant information has been derived from the WhatsApp chats of two people convicted in the murder of Judge Uttam Anand in Dhanbad. 

Uttam Anand, an Additional District Judge, was knocked off by the auto-rickshaw near Randhir Verma Chowk, Dhanbad. The incident was captured on CCTV. He was killed while he was out for a morning walk on July 28, 2021. The incident happened at 5 am. Jharkhand High Court's division bench of Acting Chief Justice Shree Chandrashekhar and Justice Ananda Sen was heard a public interest litigation initiated suo moto after the murder. 

Justice N V Ramana, the then Chief Justice of India had spoken to the then Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court. The Court had started monitoring the investigation which was initially started by the Dhanbad police. When the the investigation did not yield quick results, the case was handed over to the CBI. The CBI picked up two persons -- Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma, the driver and conductor of the auto-rickshaw that hit Judge Anand. The CBI had re-registered the case and filed the charge sheet in October 2021. CBI had registered a case on August 4, 2021 in the matter of the murder of Uttam Anand, Additional District Judge, Dhanbad on the request of Jharkhand Government and on further Notification from Government of India. 

Jharkhand High Court had directed the CBI to take over the probe into the death case of Dhanbad district judget. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad gave this direction after accepting the recommendation made by the Jharkhand Government in August 2021.

Prior to that a case was registered by State police on a complaint from wife of deceased vide FIR No.300/2021 dated July 28, 2021 at Police Station Dhanbad under Sections 302 and 34 of IPC against an unknown auto driver. Two persons were arrested by local police. Supreme Court of India had taken suo-motu cognizance in the matter. It had passed directions for regular monitoring of the case by the High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi. After taking over the investigation of the said case, CBI constituted a Special Investigation Team. After thorough investigation, covering all the possible aspects, CBI filed a chargesheet on October 20, 2021 against these two accused before the Court at Dhanbad.  As many as 58 prosecution witnesses were examined.  The trial was completed in a record time of almost six months. The entire investigation and trial was completed within one year from the incident. The Trial Court had found both the accused guilty and convicted them on July 28, 2022.

The sessions court of Dhanbad had framed charges on February 2, 2022. Dhanbad's Additional District and Sessions Judge-8 convicted both of offences under sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and under 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Court pronounced the quantum of the sentence on August 6, 2022. A fine of Rs 30,000 was also imposed on both convicts.

The CBI had issued a statement when the Special Judge, CBI Cases, Dhanbad (Jharkhand) sentenced Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Kumar Verma on August 6, 2022. Both have to undergo Life Imprisonment for remainder of Natural Life without any remission  in a case related to murder of Uttam Anand, then Additional District & Sessions Judge, Dhanbad.


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