Jharkhand judge murder: 2 drivers held guilty

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CCTV footage helped nail the accused in the case

DHANBAD: A year after additional district and sessions judge Uttam Anand was fatally knocked down by an auto during a morning stroll down a deserted Dhanbad road, a special CBI court Thursday convicted auto drivers Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma guilty of murder without the prosecution needing to establish a motive for the “deliberate” act. The duo’s sentencing is scheduled for August 6.
“If an accused knows that his act can cause death, it needn’t necessarily be linked to a motive,” special judge Rajnikant Pathak said, citing CCTV footage purportedly showing that the convicted duo twice entered the city’s Judges’ Colony before their auto dashed the victim from behind at speed. The fatal hit, captured on camera at 5.08am on July 28, 2021, was initially suspected to be an accident.
Pronouncing Verma and Verma guilty of murder under Section 302 of the IPC, the court said they were also convicted of destruction of evidence (Section 201) and common intention (Section 34).
The duo attended the hearing from jail through video-conferencing. “The judge sustained a serious head injury that was enough to cause death, as confirmed by the doctors who examined him, and the forensic report submitted in court,” special judge Rajnikant Pathak said.
The duo had tried to mislead the CBI and the court by accusing each other and altering their statements during interrogation, the prosecution said. Both claimed to be in an inebriated condition when their auto knocked down Anand, but this could not be medically and forensically established. Special CBI prosecutor Amit Jindal said, “The murder of Judge Uttam Anand was akin to an attack on the entire judicial system. I would demand capital punishment to the convicted duo on August 6.”
The Jharkhand government had constituted a special investigation team to probe the additional district judge’s death after CCTV footage threw up the possibility of murder. On August last year, the case was handed over to the CBI on the Jharkhand high court’s instruction.
The CBI submitted a chargesheet against the accused on October 20, charging them with murder. The agency filed two other cases against them for auto and mobile phone theft. The high court and the Supreme Court, which took suo motu cognisance of the case, monitored the probe from the beginning.


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