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Supreme Court seeks report from Jharkhand on judge killing | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Rising number of attacks on judges and lawyers compelled a worried Supreme Court on Friday to take suo motu cognisance of the alleged killing of Dhanbad additional district judge Uttam Anand and order the Jharkhand chief secretary and the DGP to submit the status of the investigations within a week.
Though on Thursday, CJI N V Ramana had talked to Jharkhand HC Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan, leading to the HC ordering probe into the incident, a bench of the CJI and Justice Surya Kant on Friday decided to take up the Jharkhand incident besides those on a pan-India basis, saying attacks on judges and lawyers were reported from across the country.
The bench said safety and security of judicial officers and lawyers are of paramount importance for fearless and independent functioning of the justice dispensation system. On Thursday, SC Bar Association president Vikas Singh had mentioned the Dhanbad incident before the CJI and demanded a CBI probe, terming it a “brazen assault” on independence of judiciary.
Turning to the Jharkhand incident, the bench said it was taking suo motu cognisance because of the close proximity of the “unfortunate death of the additional district judge” to that of a Ranchi-based lawyer, who was gunned down by miscreants on July 26. However, the SC clarified that the suo motu cognisance of the incident taken by it would not impede the Jharkhand HC’s proceedings relating to the death of the Dhanbad additional district judge.
The SC termed the Dhanbad incident “gruesome” and said the circulation of the video clip suggests that “it was not a case of simple road accident”.
The bench in its order said, “We direct the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, state of Jharkhand, to jointly submit a status report of inquiry vis-a-vis the sad demise of the judicial officer Uttam Anand, with the Registry of this curt within a week’s time.”
The CJI said the SC is taking suo motu cognisance “taking into account several such incidents in other parts of the country where judicial officers and lawyers are attacked”. The CJI-led bench said, “It has been brought to the notice of this court that similar incidents are happening across the country. Taking into consideration the duty and obligation of the state to create an environment and accord full protection to judicial officers as well as the legal fraternity so that they can perform their duties fearlessly, we deem it appropriate to take up this matter suo motu.”
“As there is an urgent need for wider consideration and consequential detailed explanation(s) by all concerned, we will consider the desirability of issuing notice to all other states and Union Territories on the next date of hearing,” it said setting the next date of hearing for August 6.
In what could put the Hemant Soren government in a tight spot, the bench asked the Jharkhand chief secretary and the DGP to detail the steps taken to protect judicial officers, judges and the legal fraternity within and outside the court complexes.
A quick search of news reports on assault on judges by TOI revealed many such incidents in the recent past.
On March 25 in Uttar Pradesh, a group of lawyers, annoyed with the decisions of Unnao additional district judge Prahlad Tandon, had assaulted him. Humiliated in this manner, the judicial officer had tendered his resignation. The state Bar Council had identified eight lawyers associated with the assault.
In February, a man had thrown motor oil at the official car of Justice V Shircy of the Kerala High Court blackening the driver-side of the car. In July last year, Chittor magistrate V Ramakrishna had alleged that he was assaulted by ruling YSRCP workers, who were purportedly aides of Andhra Pradesh minister P Ramachandra Reddy. Ramakrishna had alleged that he was assaulted because of his differences with former Judge C V Nagarjuna Reddy, chairperson of AP Electricity Regulatory Commission. In 2018 in Maharashtra, Nagpur senior civil judge K R Deshpande was allegedly slapped by an assistant public prosecutor who was miffed with his decision in a case.
In 1994, in the light of increasing frequency of attacks on the independence of judges, lawyers and court officials, the weakening safeguards for judiciary and lawyers and the gravity of frequency of human rights violations, the UN Human Rights Commission had decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers. The Special Rapporteur continues to give adverse reports about safety and security of judges and lawyers.
In July last year, US District Judge Esther Salas’ son, Daniel Anderl, and husband, defence attorney Mark Anderl, were shot in their New Jersey home in North Brunswick Township. The tragedy forced New Jersey to enact a Daniel’s law, named after Salas’ son, in November last year that makes it a crime to publish personal information of New Jersey judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers, including their phone numbers and home addresses.



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