Dhanbad Judge killing: Police ‘feeding questions’ to get ‘specific answer’, says Jharkhand HC

Stating that Jharkhand Police was “feeding questions” to get “a particular answer”, which is “not appreciated”, the Jharkhand High Court Tuesday came down heavily on the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the alleged murder of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand.

Hearing the case suo motu, the court noted that the autopsy report says the death was “caused by hard and blunt substance due to head injury”, and asked why police were asking if such injuries were possible due to a fall.

“We have perused the questionnaire framed by the Investigating Officer namely Mr Vinay Kumar… to Dr Kumar Shubhendu, Assistant Professor… SNMMC, Dhanbad: ‘Please explain whether the injuries in the head are possible by fall on road surface or not?’… When the Investigating Agency is investigating the occurrence in order to find out the reason of death, then how and under what circumstances such question is being asked by the Investigating Officer from the concerned doctor, that too when the CCTV footage clarifies the entire scene of occurrence?” the Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan said.

“(The) postmortem report clearly discloses that the fatal injury has been caused by a hard and blunt substance. Thereafter, it is for the Investigating Agency to find out the weapon of crime. Feeding a particular question to the doctor to get a particular answer is not at all appreciated.” The court said it did not receive any satisfactory answers from police.

ASJ Uttam Anand, 50, had been knocked down while out on his morning walk by an auto-rickshaw that veered sharply towards him on an empty road, as CCTV footage showed. The postmortem report mentioned “diffuse contusion” in the head as well as fracture and blood clots in the protection layer of the brain. The police have arrested two persons and seized the autorickshaw, which was found to be stolen.

The court said it was essential to unearth the “conspiracy” and catch the “mastermind” and that “apprehending a pawn” would not serve any purpose. “Time would be of essence in this investigation. Delay as well as any flaw in the investigation may eventually affect the trial adversely.”

The court also questioned the delay in the registration of an FIR. It said it was “intriguing” that while the CCTV footage of the incident became “viral within 2 to 4 hours from the time of occurrence” and Judge Anand was taken to hospital around 5.30 am, the FIR was lodged “belatedly at 12.45 pm”, after a complaint by his wife. “The CCTV must be regularly monitored by police. The doctors of the hospital must also have informed police,” said the Bench.

The court took note of the recommendation of a CBI probe, and said a notification by the agency was likely by Wednesday.

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