The Supreme Court on Friday, 6 August, articulated its disapproval over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s inadequate action in the past over complaints regarding the harassment of judges.
The apex court, which was hearing a case on the suspected murder of a Jharkhand judge, observed judges had been assaulted physically as well as mentally on numerous occasions in the past.
"In one or two places, courts ordered CBI inquiry. It is sad to say that CBI has done nothing. We expected some change in CBI attitude. But there has been no change. We are sorry to observe that," Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana told Attorney General of India KK Venugopal, who is assisting in the case, Live Law reported.
Justice Ramana further stated that there was a new trend of maligning the judiciary if an unfavorable order is passed.
"It is a new trend in this country. If an adverse order is passed, then judiciary is maligned. Even though judges complaint, there is no response. CBI, IB etc aren't helping judiciary at all," the CJI was quoted as saying by Live Law.
The court was hearing a case on the suspected murder of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand, who had been hit by a vehicle while on his morning walk.
A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI NV Ramana on 30 July had taken suo motu cognisance of the death of Jharkhand judge Uttam Anand, who was hit by a vehicle while on his morning walk.
While taking cognizance, the apex court said that the "grotesque incident" has “bigger ramifications”. It pledged to tackle bigger questions of safety for judges throughout the nation.
"Look at the unfortunate case of death of a young judge. It is State's failure. Security should have been provided to residences of judges," Justice NV Ramana said on 6 August, alluding to the alleged murder of the Dhanbad judge, Live Law reported.
The court also sought the early response of the Centre to a writ petition submitted in 2019, seeking special protection force for judges and courts. The CJI regretted that though the plea was filed two years ago, the government is yet to file its counter-affidavit.
The Investigation So Far
The CBI on Wednesday, 4 August, had registered a case in connection with the death of Dhanbad Additional District Judge Uttam Anand on the request of the Jharkhand government.
"CBI has today registered a case related to the death of Uttam Anand ADJ Dhanbad on the request of Jharkhand government and further notification from the Centre, and taken over the investigation," a CBI spokesperson was quoted as saying by IANS.
The Jharkhand government had earlier formed an SIT (special investigation team) to probe the matter. But, later it recommended the CBI probe into the death.
The special investigation team probing the killing of the judge has so far not made any headway, despite arresting a total of 17 people in the case, including autorickshaw driver Lakhan Verma and his associate Rahul Verma.
On Tuesday, 3 August, the Jharkhand High Court directed the CBI to start the probe into the death of the judge at the earliest, so that no evidence is destroyed.
The Suspected Murder of the Dhanbad Judge
Judge Uttam Anand was hit by a tempo while walking near the Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad on 28 July morning at 5:08 am. He died in the hospital at 9:30 am, IANS reported.
The deceased was suspected to have been murdered in what had earlier been construed as an accident.
The tempo was recovered from Giridih district on the night of the same day itself. During the investigation, it was found that the vehicle was stolen on Tuesday, 27 July.
The CCTV footage of the incident, accessed by the police, reportedly showed that the tempo changed its lane to hit the judge, who was walking on the side of the vacant road, killing him on the spot.
Late judge Anand had been handling a murder case against a certain Ranjit, who is related to an influential family of Dhanbad, popularly known as the Singh Mansion. Sanjeev Singh, one the members of the family, had earlier been a BJP MLA from Jharia.
The judge had also been hearing cases of various mafia killings in Dhanbad, and had recently rejected the bail requests of two gangsters, NDTV reported.
(With inputs from Live Law, NDTV and IANS)