RANCHI: A special CBI court in Dhanbad ordered rigorous life imprisonment to two convicts for killing a judge on July 28 last year while he was on a morning walk near his house. Lakhan Verma and his accomplice Rahul Verma ran Additional District Judge (ADJ) Uttam Anand over by an auto-rickshaw. The court also imposed a fine of `30,000 on each of them.
Special CBI judge Rajnikant Pathak held the two guilties on July 28 — exactly a year after the incident — under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder), 201 (destroying evidence) and 34 (acts done in furtherance of common intention).“The court pronounced rigorous life imprisonment and imposed a fine of `20,000 each under Section 302/34 and seven-year imprisonment with `10,000 fine under section 201/34 to both of them,” said defence lawyer Kumar Bimlendu. Half of the fine amount will go to the victim’s family, he added.
The advocate said there was no provision for remission in the case. CBI’s special public prosecutor Amit Jindal, who was in Delhi and recently tested Covid positive, made his submission through video conferencing, he said.“He told the court that the case involved an assault on a judge, therefore, it came under the rarest of rare cases. The convicts had criminal antecedents and both of them intentionally committed the crime. Therefore, it was a fit case of capital punishment,” said the defence lawyer.
The defence lawyer cited the tender age of the convicts, stressing that it was not a murder but an accident as both of them were in an intoxicated condition.“They are first-time offenders. They are very young; one is 21 years old while the other is 22 years old. If given a chance, they will contribute to nation building,” said Kumar. The court said the case did not come under the rarest of the rare cases.
The family members of judge Uttam Anand said they are not satisfied with the court’s verdict. “We will challenge the verdict in the high court,” said Vishal Anand, brother-in-law of judge Uttam Anand.
CCTV footage showing an auto-rickshaw hitting the judge had raised doubts over the motive behind his killing. The Jharkhand High Court took suo moto cognizance of the matter, calling the incident a direct attack on the judiciary.
The state government had set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter. But the Jharkhand High Court and the Supreme Court took cognizance of the incident and the state government subsequently handed over the probe to the CBI on Aug 4, 2021. The CBI re-registered the case and filed the charge sheet in October 2021.
The CBI filed the charge sheet against auto-rickshaw driver Lakhan Verma and his accomplice, Rahul Verma, on Oct. 20, 2021. Subsequently, the special CBI court framed charges against the two on Feb. 2 this year and completed the trial after 35 hearings.