A sessions court in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad on Thursday convicted two of the accused in the murder of Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand, who was hit by an auto-rickshaw during his morning walk on July 28 last year and later in the head. He had died due to injuries.
The court is likely to pronounce the sentence on August 6. The verdict comes just a year after Judge Anand’s death when he was directly hit by an autorickshaw on an empty road in Dhanbad.
Additional Sessions Judge Rajni Kant Pathak convicted Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma under sections 302 (murder) and 201 (missing evidence) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The prosecution had stated that the motive of the offence was to snatch the mobile phone of the victim and that it was a premeditated act for which the conviction was made under Section 302 of the IPC. Charged only with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
After the verdict, defence lawyer Kumar Bimlendu told The Indian Express: “The judge convicted both the accused of murder. The court had only taken into account the statement of eyewitness Shravan Kumar that the auto deliberately moved towards the judge and hit him. hit him which led to his death. The court also relied on the CFSL report which said that both the accused were not intoxicated during the act. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on August 6.
The most important statement of the lone eyewitness Sarban Singh, 53, who worked as a cable man in BCCL coal mine and completed his night shift and left the office at around 4.50 am on July 28, 2021. He used to go home every day via Jagjivan Nagar. Randhir Verma Chowk, where the incident took place.
“I saw that an auto rickshaw went on its left side and hit a person intentionally. When I was crossing I saw the man, he was covered in blood. Since I have (high) blood pressure and also a heart condition, I did not stop, nor did I raise my voice as I usually get nervous in such situations,” he made a statement before the court.
He later said that a 19-year-old man got down a little further down the road near Hatia Chowk and started walking on it. He added, “I noticed that the person in the picture later identified him as Rahul Verma, who had stepped into the auto.”
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). Police feared that the accident would be a pre-planned hit and run.
The attack on Justice Anand was seen as an “attack on judicial independence” and Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said he had spoken to the Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court on the matter.
The Jharkhand government later handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which re-registered the case and filed a charge sheet in October last year. The sessions court framed the charges on February 2 this year and completed the hearing after 35 hearings. After taking over the investigation of the said case, the CBI constituted a Special Investigation Team. The prosecution examined 58 witnesses.
The CBI also conducted brain profiling of both the accused on two occasions, which caused a stir in the Jharkhand High Court, which was monitoring the case. After the first brain profiling was done in September 2021, test results on one of the accused indicated that he was given the task of killing the judge. However, the second test conducted on the same accused in January this year indicates that he was not even present at the time of the incident.
The HC had also pulled up the Jharkhand government for running a forensic science lab in Ranchi as if it was in a “primitive stage”. Initially, the samples of both the accused were returned as facilities for blood and urine testing were not available, and the samples were sent to CFSL, Delhi. The CFSL report later stated that both the accused were not intoxicated, which later became a major ground for the conviction.