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Sushant Singh Rajput death | Supreme Court confirms CBI probe

Sushant Singh Rajput. File   | Photo Credit: AP

The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the ongoing CBI investigation recommended by the Bihar government into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

The court flexed its extraordinary constitutional powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to order that any future FIRs registered, including by Mumbai Police, will be investigated by the central agency.

 

“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 awaiting the outcome of the investigation so that all the speculations floating around can be put to rest,” a Single Judge Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed.

The court upheld the validity of the FIR registered into the death by the Bihar Police on the complaint filed by Sushant’s father. Justice Roy also, at the same time, said the Mumbai Police had jurisdiction in the case owing to the fact that certain incidents, including the death of the actor, happened there.

Bihar, Maharashtra police acrimony

However, the court said the acrimony between Bihar and Maharashtra Police over the case was all too obvious.

It said the furious trading of allegations between Bihar and Maharashtra governments would “only render truth a casualty and justice a victim” in the case.

Their slanging matches had brought the legitimacy of the investigation “under a cloud”. Further mud-slinging would misdirect investigation, lead to more finger-pointing, weave new conspiracy theories besides triggering speculative public discourse in the media.

“In the instant case, political interference against both States is alleged. This has the potential of discrediting the investigation. The legal process must, therefore, be focused upon revelation of the correct facts through credible and legally acceptable investigation. It must be determined whether the unnatural death was the result of some criminal acts,” the court reasoned.

‘Fair probe needed’

It said a “fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour”. It is the least that could be done for a man who has lost his only son, Justice Roy wrote in a 35-page judgment.

The judgment explained why the court had insisted on naming the investigating agency now itself.

Justice Roy said Maharashtra, having jurisdiction over the case, could either transfer its case to the CBI or launch a full-fledged investigation. The latter would clash with the ongoing CBI probe on the basis of the Bihar FIR. To avoid this scenario, the court used its Article 142 powers to divert all or any future FIRs in the case to the CBI.

The judgment further dismissed as “premature” an argument by Maharashtra that Bihar government’s investigation was a “parallel” one. Justice Roy pointed out that the Mumbai Police was yet to register an FIR.

The court said the Bihar Police did have jurisdiction for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Sushant’s father tried to reach him on the phone from Patna. Secondly, allegations of misappropriation and criminal breach of trust in the case were linked to Patna. Finally, the consequence of Sushant’s death was suffered in Patna.

The court held that the Patna Police was also under no obligation to transfer the case to Mumbai.

The judgment came on a plea by actor Rhea Chakraborty to transfer the Bihar FIR against her and her family to Mumbai. To this, Justice Roy responded that Ms. Chakraborty herself had made it clear that she would not mind if the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe by using its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

On August 13, before the Bench reserved the case for judgment, Ms. Chakraborty had maintained that she had no objection to a Supreme Court-ordered CBI investigation into the allegations.

The CBI had in turn submitted there was no active investigation by Mumbai Police into the death. All the Mumbai Police did was conduct an “on-spot enquiry”, that is, note down the injuries seen on the body.

The Bihar government, in its two-page submissions, said the Mumbai Police was acting out a “facade” of an investigation without even having registered an FIR.

Rajput’s father said he had gone to the Bihar Police because he was “literally facing the wall” in his efforts to know the truth about the death of his son.

Maharashtra defended saying that Rajput’s father had never approached the Mumbai Police in the first place. It said a victim or an accused could not choose the investigating agency or place of investigation.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 11:17:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-orders-cbi-probe-into-sushant-singh-rajput-death/article32391075.ece

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