The Jharkhand High Court has upbraided the police for the manner in which it was investigating the death of Dhanbad Judge Uttam Anand by unnecessarily "feeding question" to the doctor about possibility of head injuries by fall on a road surface when the post-mortem report clearly stated that the death was due to head injuries.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad also came down heavily on the police for delay in registration of FIR in the incident.
The court expressed its dismay over Special Investigating Team (SIT) ways of probing the matter while hearing a PIL on the issue the previous day.
The court said it posed questions to the investigating officer regarding the probe in the presence of the Director General of Police and head of the Special Investigating Team (SIT).
"We have perused the questionnaire framed by the Investigating Officer namely Mr Vinay Kumar dated 31.07.2021 addressed to Dr. Kumar Shubhendu, Assistant Professor, Department of F.M.T, SNMMC, Dhanbad asking questions from the concerned doctor. The first question is "Please explain whether the injuries in the head are possible by fall on road surface or not?" the order by the division bench mentioned.
"...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 order reads.
It observed: "The post-mortem report clearly discloses that fatal injury has been caused by a hard and blunt substance. Therefore, 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. However, neither the investigating officer nor the head of the special investigating team could give a proper reply."
CCTV footage showed that the 49-year-old judge was jogging on one side of a fairly wide road at Randhir Verma Chowk early in the morning on July 28 when a heavy auto-rickshaw veered towards him, hit him from behind and fled.
The court also expressed serious concern over delay in registration of the FIR, saying it is amazing that an FIR could be registered only after the complaint of the Judge's wife though the CCTV footage of the incident had gone viral.
"It is intriguing when the CCTV footage of the incidence became viral within 2 to 4 hours from the time of occurrence and the injured judicial officer was taken to a private hospital at about 5.30 am, then why the FIR was instituted so belatedly at 12.45 pm after a complaint was lodged by the wife of the judicial officer? The CCTV must be regularly being monitored by police.
"The doctors of the hospital must also have informed the police then why the police became active only after the complaint was lodged by the wife of the judicial officer became questionable," it observed.
The court asked for the progress report in the case in a sealed cover by the investigating agency on or before the next date of hearing - August 12.
"Let a responsible officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appear in person," it said.
The High Court had on Tuesday also directed the CBI to initiate a probe into the death case of Dhanbad district judge Uttam Anand at the earliest. The bench headed by Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan gave this direction after the reply of the CBI counsel during the hearing of the case.
The CBI on Wednesday took over the investigation into the death of the Dhanbad judge. They said the agency has received the Jharkhand government's request, routed through the Centre, to investigate the matter.
Sources said that according to the laid down procedure, the agency has taken over the Dhanbad police FIR in the matter.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren had on last Saturday decided to hand over the probe into the hit-and-run case of the Dhanbad judge to the CBI.