The Supreme Court on Wednesday accorded its approval to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to go ahead with its probe into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
“To ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter”, a single judge bench presided by Justice Hrishikesh Roy invoked the inherent power of the apex court conferred on it under article 142 of the Constitution of India to approve the CBI probe into the matter.
Justice Roy also directed that, if any other case is registered on the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the surrounding circumstances of his unnatural death, the CBI would investigate the new case as well.
“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”, Justice Roy wrote.
The order came to be passed on a plea by Rhea Chakraborty who had sought transfer of the FIR lodged against her at Patna to Mumbai.
The Court, thus, held that the Mumbai police was carrying out no investigation pursuant to the commission of a cognizable offence. Therefore, the court said, it was pre-emptive and premature to hold that the Mumbai Police was carrying out a parallel investigation.
In so far as the legality of Patna police registering an FIR is concerned, the Court held 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”, said Justice Roy.
Justice Roy added “At the stage of investigation, they were not required to transfer the FIR to Mumbai police. For the same reason, the Bihar government was competent to give consent for entrustment of investigation to the CBI and as such the ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful”.
“Moreover, the allegation relating to criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of money which were to be eventually accounted for in Patna (where the Complainant resides), could prima facie indicate the lawful jurisdiction of the Patna police”, Justice Roy observed.
The FIR in Patna was registered against Chakraborty and others for alleged offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 306 (abetment of suicide), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, for Rhea Chakraborty, had argued that the Bihar police had no jurisdiction to lodge an FIR since the incidents alleged in the complaint lodged by the father of Sushant Singh, had taken place entirely within the jurisdiction of State of Maharashtra.
Divan added that since the Bihar police lacked jurisdiction to investigate the allegations in the Complaint, the transfer of the investigation to the CBI on Bihar Government’s consent, would not amount to a lawful consent of the State government, under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Act, 1946.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, on behalf of the Bihar Government, argued that the complaint filed by the father of Sushant Singh disclosed a cognizable offence and therefore, it was incumbent for the Patna Police to register the FIR and proceed with the investigation.
“Since allegations of criminal breach of trust, Cheating and defalcation of money from the account of the deceased are alleged, the consequences of the offence are projected to be within the jurisdiction of the State of Bihar”, submitted senior advocate Maninder Singh.
Representing the father of Sushant Singh, senior advocate Vikash Singh had argued that the inquiry by the Mumbai Police under section 174 of the CrPC was not an investigation of the complainant’s allegations and therefore the registration of the case and investigation into those allegations by the Bihar Police was justified.
Singh added since only an investigation (not a case or appeal) is pending at Patna, and a legally competent investigation has commenced, the invocation of Section 406 power by the Court to transfer the investigation, was projected to be not merited.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, on behalf of the Maharashtra Government, had argued that the Mumbai Police registered an Accidental Death Report(ADR) into the matter and commenced inquiry under Section 174 of the CrPC to ascertain the cause of death and also to determine whether the death was the result of some criminal act committed by some other persons.
Singhvi added, in course of the inquiry, the statements of 56 persons were recorded and other evidence such as the Post Mortem report, Forensic report, etc have been collected. If the inquiry discloses commission of a cognizable offence, the Mumbai police would register an FIR. He also argued that Bihar completely lacked jurisdiction in the matter.
On behalf of the Centre, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had argued that a fair and impartial inquiry can be ensured if the police of either state are kept away from investigating the alleged crime, relating to the suspicious death of the film actor.