Supreme Court swings into action after Jharkhand judge’s death

Uttam Anand was hit by a vehicle from behind while he was out for his morning jog at Dhanbad.

July 29, 2021 12:04 pm | Updated 10:07 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Police arrested Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma in Dhanbad on July 29, 2021 in connection with the death of judge Uttam Anand.

Police arrested Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma in Dhanbad on July 29, 2021 in connection with the death of judge Uttam Anand.

The judiciary swung into action on Thursday after a chilling video of a vehicle fatally ramming into an Additional District Judge out for a morning jog in Jharkhand surfaced online.

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana is said to have informed Supreme Court Bar Association president, senior advocate Vikas Singh, that he has already discussed the issue with the Jharkhand Chief Justice.


The Jharkhand HC has, in turn, taken cognisance of the video and initiated investigation. As soon as the court started on Thursday, Mr. Singh made an urgent oral mention before a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, saying the alleged murder of Judge Uttam Anand in Dhanbad was a "shocking and brazen attack on the independence of the judiciary".

Murder complaint

The video , Mr. Singh said, showed a vehicle suddenly swerving off the road and slamming into Mr. Anand from behind on a lonely stretch of road early on July 28 morning. He was found bleeding on the road and taken to the hospital where he was left unidentified for hours. The police finally traced the body after the family gave a missing person's complaint. His family, who initially thought the cause of death to be a hit-and-run accident, has filed a complaint for murder.

Mr. Singh said the video footage was evidence and should be taken on record.

Justice Chandrachud had advised Mr. Singh to make a mention after sending an email to the Chief Justice of India and the Registrar in charge of Mentioning process in the court. "Our judicial officers should be protected. If judiciary has to be independent, we have to come in very sternly," Mr. Singh submitted.

Justice Chandrachud asked Mr. Singh to take up the issue with the Chief Justice of India. "I had then mentioned it before the Chief Justice of India who said he had already talked to the Jharkhand Chief Justice. I was informed that the issue was taken up by the High Court on the judicial side. I am demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident," Mr. Singh said.

July 22 judgment

Judge Anand's death comes close on the heels of a July 22 judgment authored by Justice Chandrachud had turned the spotlight on the “appalling work conditions” of the district judiciary. The observations in Justice Chandrachud's judgment concerned an order passed by a trial judge in Madhya Pradesh revealing that he was facing threats in a case concerning the murder case in which the husband of a BSP MLA was the prime accused.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, had highlighted how “judges are targeted simply for standing up for what is right, and sadly, a subservience to the administration of the High Court for transfers and postings which renders them vulnerable,” Justice Chandrachud elaborated the odds faced everyday by subordinate judges.

The Supreme Court had said the “independence of the judiciary is the independence of each and every judge”. The judgment had also pointed to a larger malaise of application of political pressure on trial judges.

“Judicial independence of the district judiciary is cardinal to the integrity of the entire system. The courts comprised in the district judiciary are the first point of interface with citizens. If the faith of the citizen in the administration of justice has to be preserved, it is to the district judiciary that attention must be focused as well as the ‘higher’ judiciary,” Justice Chandrachud had observed.

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