Jharkhand Judge murder case: Incident shook judiciary, led to fear among officials’ kin, says judge

In the sentencing order in connection with the murder of Jharkhand judge Uttam Anand, Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Rajni Kant Pathak has underlined how the incident had shaken the judiciary as well as the citizens, and created an atmosphere of fear among the family members of judicial officers.

ASJ Pathak had convicted Lakhan Verma and Rahul Verma under sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and under 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on July 28 and sentenced them to ‘rigorous imprisonment till death’ on August 6. The judgement copy was made available on Friday.

In the sentencing order, the court said: “Nobody could think that a judge of Jharkhand judiciary would be murdered in such a way. This incident shook not only the judicial fraternity of the country but also the citizens… After the incident, there was an atmosphere of fear among the family members of judicial officers and the people of the country. The general people were compelled to think if this can happen to a judge what would happen to an ordinary citizen…the convicts should be punished severely.”

When the defence pleaded for leniency, the court said: “…it is difficult to accept the prayer that a lenient view be taken in this case, specially when a judicial officer was murdered by the the convicts in a planned manner…if they are released, it would send a wrong massage to society…Also, they may commit the same offence again, having no respect and regard for human life and law of the land.”

The verdict came a year after an autorickshaw ploughed straight into Judge Anand on an empty road in Dhanbad, leading to his death.

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Defence counsel Kumar Bimlendu had argued that it was not a case of murder as there was no motive. As per the court records, defence submitted that it was the ‘system’ that ‘killed’ the judge, adding: “…moreover, who killed the judge…firstly, it’s the system as he was alive for four hours, but was left unattended by medicos of SNMMCH, as is with common man. Secondly, the gate of Sadar Hospital was closed, no state-of-the-art trauma centre is in the nearby town.”

However, the court said that the motive was “not necessary” for conviction and the hit was “intentional and deliberate”. Judge Pathak in the order wrote: “…I find motive is not necessary and it cannot stand in the way of conviction. Moreover, from perusal of evidence available on record, the prosecution has been able to prove that there was clear cut and deliberate intention of the auto driver as well as its co-assistant.”

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