INDIA. Mumbai. After a heated debate lasting nearly two months in film and political circles, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that the investigation of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s (SSR) death case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The above directions were given by Justice Hrishikesh Roy to the Mumbai Police. They were instructed to hand over all evidence that has been collected to the CBI on Wednesday. The SC also said the First Information Report (FIR) registered in Patna, Bihar was corrected. The FIR was based on a complaint filed by SSR’s father, K. K Singh, and the Bihar Government asked the CBI to further investigate the case. A “fair, competent and impartial probe” is the need of the hour to stop speculation, said the court.
The above judgment was given in response to the petition filed by SSR’s ex-girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty (who was also in a live-in relationship with SSR), pleading that the case registered in Patna be transferred to Mumbai since the Bihar Police had no jurisdiction. She was worried that SSR’s death was being used for political gains ahead of elections in the state.
Bihar versus Maharashtra
While the Bihar Government pleaded for the transfer of the case to CBI, the Maharashtra Government maintained that the cause of action arose in Mumbai and the Mumbai Police had already interrogated over 56 persons up to this point.
Overruling the Maharastra Government, the SC ordered that the case be transferred to CBI stating that Mumbai Police were only conducting a limited inquiry under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure into the cause of unnatural death of Rajput. The SC stated that an inquiry under section 174 is limited in scope and cannot be equated to a full-fledged investigation, since the Mumbai police had not registered an FIR. Whereas Patna Police had registered a full-fledged FIR in the case.
Supreme Court’s inherent powers
As per section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the SC has inherent powers to transfer cases and appeals to investigating agencies anywhere in the country.
SSR, 34, was found dead in his Bandra apartment in North West Mumbai on June 14. The Mumbai Police registered the case as an accidental death. Subsequently, the report of post mortem carried out at R N Cooper Hospital, at Vile Parle West in North West Mumbai, stated that he died of asphyxiation. The Mumbai Police were also investigating whether SSR was the victim of nepotism and hence ended his life.
The late actor’s former manager, Disha Salian (28), also committed suicide by jumping from a high-rise building in Malad, North Mumbai on June 8 and the people linked it with SSR’s death. However, her father, Satish Salian, denied any foul play and said that he was “completely satisfied” with the probe being conducted by Mumbai Police.
Allegations of illegal monetary transactions
SSR’s father has accused Rhea of abetting his suicide and has also accused her of illegally transferring Rs.15 crore from his bank accounts. The Enforcement Directorate has already interrogated Rhea and others in this connection. Besides, CBI has filed charge sheets against 6 persons, including Rhea.
There have been acrimonious allegations of political interference between the Maharashtra and Bihar Governments and the legitimacy of the investigation was under a cloud. The Maharashtra Government was accused of shielding Rhea since Maharashtra Chief Minister (CM), Uddhav Thackeray’s, son and Cabinet Minister, Aditya Thackeray, have close ties with some of the Bollywood personalities. However, CM Uddhav Thackeray said that for those who have any doubts in the investigation, he has full faith in Mumbai Police.
However, the opposition BJP in Maharashtra exploited the issue and rallied support for handing over the case to the CBI. Besides, many Bollywood celebrities including Kangana Ranaut, jumped on the bandwagon demanding CBI investigations in the case.