Dhanbad judge’s father recalls his struggle to top

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The late Judge Anand’s father Sadanand Prasad (above) is a lawyer. So are his wife and brother-in-law. (Express photo by Abhishek Angad)

“I am in no position to talk,” says Sadanand Prasad, 78, gripping the handle of his wicker chair. And then he talks, slowly, of his son who “struggled like me” and worked his way up to become a judge.

On July 28, his son, Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand, 50, was killed by an auto-rickshaw that visibly veered sharply towards him on an empty road. On Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court took cognisance of the alleged hit-and-run case, the Jharkhand government recommended that the matter be investigated by the CBI.

“We did not speak very regularly and the pandemic had limited his visits home. But he had a deep connection with all of us, the house…,” says Prasad, a practising lawyer. The shelves behind him are stacked with legal records and files. “I am a self-made man, so was Anand. He worked hard, graduated from Delhi University’s Faculty of Law. His death is a big loss… to our family, to society.”

Besides the late judge’s father Prasad, his wife and brother-in-law Prabhat Kumar Sinha are lawyers too. Sinha, who practises in the Jharkhand High Court, takes over from his father-in-law.

“This is no doubt a murder… If you see the video carefully… this is not an accident. Let the investigation bring out the truth,” he says, adding that while the judge had no enemies at home, “his colleagues in court will be able to tell you more”.

The autorickshaw that ran over and killed judge Anand in Dhanbad this week. (Photo: ANI)

Calling Anand a “friend more than a brother -in-law”, Sinha says, “He was a great dad, husband. We also bonded well professionally. We would discuss several legal points but he wouldn’t disclose anything on the case he was working on.”

Saying Anand was “very objective” in his work, Sinha says, “There have been instances where, in the cases that he dealt with, the interested parties have come to me for bail. But when he got to know, he recused himself.”

Judge Anand passed 36 orders in July, of which 34 pertained to bail in cases ranging from murder to coal smuggling, alleged sexual harassment, sale of fake lottery tickets and the alleged diversion of scholarships meant for minority school students, which was investigated by The Indian Express.

In the six cases in which he granted bail, the period of custody was the main ground. In the remaining cases, he rejected the pleas for bail citing the nature of the crime.

While he copes with Anand’s death, Prasad has another worry. “Anand’s wife Kritee has barely talked ever since he died. Anand’s death is a big loss for us, but for his wife and children, it is a loss that can’t be compensated for,” he says.

Sinha adds that Anand always wanted his wife, also a lawyer, to clear the Judicial Services Examination. “But he was very clear that he wouldn’t impose his career choice on his two daughters and son,” he says.Abhishek Angad

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