Sushant Singh Rajput death case: Centre seeks to be party in Rhea’s SC petition

The Union government approached the Supreme Court on Friday, seeking to be a party in a petition by actor Rhea Chakraborty who has appealed that a first information report (FIR) filed against her over Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput’s death be transferred from Patna to Mumbai.

The FIR, which is based on a complaint by Rajput’s father and accuses Chakraborty of abetting her 34-year-old boyfriend’s suicide, is now being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The Centre allowed the agency to take up the case on the basis of a request by Bihar, Rajput’s home state.

The department of personnel and training (DoPT) plea in the Supreme Court said the Union of India is a “necessary and proper” party to the proceedings. The move came in the wake of Chakraborty’s legal team raising objections to the Centre’s intervention. Maharashtra, Bihar, and KK Singh — Rajput’s father — are parties in her petition in the top court.

DoPT filed its impleadment plea through under secretary Satya Prakash Ram Tripathi. “The present impleadment application has been necessitated by virtue of the events that have taken place after filing of the present transfer petition,” it said.

At the heart of the case is a question of who the case originally belongs to — Mumbai or Bihar. Chakraborty’s legal team says the Bihar government cannot recommend a CBI probe since the police from that state do not have any jurisdiction to even investigate the case. The Mumbai Police, too, have claimed that they have exclusive right to probe the case since the incident occurred under its jurisdiction.

Rajput, who had a short but promising career, was found hanging at his Bandra residence in suburban Mumbai on June 14.

On Friday, Bihar filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, stressing that Section 179 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) allows an offence to be “tried either at the place where the offence has been committed or where the consequence ensues”. In this case, the consequence of the unnatural death was in Patna, where the late actor’s family resides, it argued.

The Bihar government also sought the dismissal of Chakraborty’s transfer plea, and termed it “premature, misconceived and non-maintainable”.

The affidavit, filed through advocate Keshav Mohan, said the Bihar Police have the jurisdiction in the case and accused Mumbai Police of non-cooperation. It said the Mumbai Police are “apparently siding with the petitioner (Chakraborty) for the reasons best known to them”.

Hearing Chakraborty’s plea on Wednesday, the court asked Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajput’s father to reply to Chakraborty’s plea within three days, and asked about the status of investigation by the Mumbai Police. The Mumbai Police have found the cause of Rajput’s death as “asphyxia due to hanging”, filed an accidental death report (ADR) and began an investigation.

While Bihar filed its affidavit on Friday, Maharashtra and Singh are yet to file their replies. The hearing is expected to resume next week.

“The possibility of the Rhea Chakraborty case being argued out on the next date in the Supreme Court can only be possible if Maharashtra government defends its jurisdiction. The CBI cannot operate without express consent of Maharashtra. I also see the possibility of Mumbai Police completing its probe and putting it before the court on the next date and saying ‘we have nothing more to investigate’. Only a thin chance remains that Maharashtra will accept the situation as fait accompli and concede ground to CBI, which I doubt will happen,” senior advocate Sanjay Hegde told HT.

Meanwhile, another petition before the Supreme Court on Friday said the entire case has not yet gone to CBI as the agency is only examining the FIR filed by Bihar Police on July 25.

The petition by law student Dwivendra Dubey failed to impress a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. “You are a total stranger who is unnecessarily interfering in the case. The victim’s father is pursuing the case,” the bench said through video-conferencing, while dismissing the petition.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared in the matter to inform that CBI has taken over the probe from Patna Police.

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