The Supreme Court on August 19 dismissed a plea filed by actress Rhea Chakraborty seeking to transfer the investigation in the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput from Bihar to Mumbai. On June 25, Rajput's father Krishna Kishore Singh had filed an FIR in Patna against Chakraborty and her family holding them responsible for his son's death. The Bihar state had subsequently transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for further probe.
"…the Patna police committed no illegality in registering the Complaint. Looking at the nature of the allegations in the Complaint which also relate to misappropriation and breach of trust, the exercise of jurisdiction by the Bihar Police appears to be in order," Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed bringing an end to the jurisdictional tussle between Bihar and Maharashtra.
The top court also upheld Bihar state's decision to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) "to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter…".
Mumbai police—which was also probing the matter—has been directed to hand over all the material evidence collected so far and assist the CBI in their investigation. Any other case registered in connection with Rajput's death will also be probed by the CBI.
The single-judge bench had reserved its order on August 11 after hearing detailed submissions by Bihar and Maharashtra Police, Rajput's father, Chakraborty and the Centre (for CBI).
ON June 14, the 34-year-old Chhichore star was found dead in his rented Bandra apartment. News reports suggested that Rajput allegedly suffered from depression, with some inside the Bollywood industry going as far as speculating that nepotism was its cause.
What the court said on transfer of case to CBI
An accused cannot choose the investigating agency, the court observed. In the matter pertaining to Rajput's death, "political interference against both states is alleged which has the potential of discrediting the investigation."
"Transfer of investigation to the CBI cannot be a routine occurrence but should be in exceptional circumstances" Justice Roy observed. He added that retaining "public confidence in the impartial working of the State agencies" is a "relevant" factor that must be "considered" for "induction of the Central Agency".
"While the CBI cannot conduct any investigation without the consent of the concerned state as mandated under section 6, the powers of the Constitutional Courts are not fettered by the statutory restriction of the DSPE Act," the 35-paged verdict read.
This Court "must strive to ensure that search for the truth is undertaken by an independent agency, not controlled by either of the two state governments" in light of the "the apprehension voiced by the stakeholders of unfair investigation". "Most importantly, the credibility of the investigation and the investigating authority, must be protected," the court said.
The turf war between state police
"The conflict between the two State governments on, who amongst the two is competent to investigate the case, is apparent here," Justice Roy observed. Mumbai police has attempted to stretch "the purview of Section 174 (investigation in an unnatural death) without drawing up any FIR," the judge said, "they are yet to register a FIR...".
"Therefore, it is pre-emptive and premature to hold that a parallel investigation is being carried out by the Mumbai Police," the judge added.
"…Because both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud," the court said. "Accusing fingers are being pointed and people have taken the liberty to put out their own conjectures and theories" leading to "speculative public discourse which have hogged media limelight".
"These developments, unfortunately, have the propensity to delay and misdirect the investigation. In such a situation, there is a reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim," Justice Roy said.
Justice prevails in sunlight
"The actor Sushant Singh Rajput was a talented actor in the Mumbai film world and died well before his full potential could be realised. His family, friends and admirers are keenly waiting the outcome of the investigation so that all the speculations floating around can be put to rest. Therefore, a fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour. The expected outcome then would be, a measure of justice for the Complainant, who lost his only son," the court said.
It added: "When truth meets sunshine, justice will not prevail on the living alone but after Life's fitful fever, now the departed will also sleep well. Satyameva Jayate."
Updated On: 2020-08-19T14:48:32+05:30