Sushant Singh Rajput case: 5 factors behind SC order for CBI probe

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Below is a list of 5 factors that played a role in the court’s decision.

1. Maharashtra police yet to investigate

The court noted that the Maharashtra police was only conducting a limited inquiry under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) into the cause of unnatural death of Rajput.

Section 174 of CrPC confers powers on police to enquire into death by suicide and submit a report to the district magistrate. The Supreme Court said that an inquiry under section 174 is limited in scope and cannot be equated to a full-fledged investigation. The Mumbai police have not registered an FIR or started investigation into the incident.

2. Patna police has jurisdiction to register FIR

Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty had argued that Bihar police does not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter and register an FIR since the incident occurred in Mumbai. The Supreme Court, however, turned this down stating that registration of an FIR is mandated when information on a cognizable offence is received by the police.

“Precedents suggest that at the stage of investigation, it cannot be said that the concerned police station does not have territorial jurisdiction to investigate the case,” the court said in its judgment.

Moreover, Rajput’s father, whose complaint was the basis for Bihar police to register an FIR, had alleged a criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of money. The consequences of the incident would, therefore, arise in Patna as well.

“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,” the court held.

The finding that the FIR by Bihar police was valid turned out to be crucial because the CBI had taken over the probe based on the request made by Bihar police.

3. Need for an independent agency due to conflict between two state governments

The apex court noted that there is a conflict between the two state governments in the matter and though the steps taken by Mumbai police cannot be faulted, stakeholders have raised allegations of unfair investigation against Mumbai police.

“Because both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud. This Court (Supreme 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,” the judgment said.

4. Need to avoid uncertainty due to possible parallel investigations

The court said that CBI has already registered a case and commenced investigation at the instance of the Bihar government. If Mumbai police also decides to commence probe, then it could add to uncertainty and confusion.

“Uncertainty and confusion must be avoided in the event of Mumbai Police also deciding to simultaneously investigate the offence, based on their findings,” the judgment said.

5. Justice for Rajput’s father and Rhea

The court noted that Rajput was a talented actor in the Mumbai film world who died well before his full potential could be realised. An impartial probe and its outcome will ensure that Rajput’s father and Rhea get justice. Moreover, Rhea herself had called for CBI investigation, the court added.

“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 court said.

Law invoked by Supreme Court

Article 142 of the Constitution confers wide power on the Supreme Court to pass an order for doing complete justice in the matter before it. It is invoked to grant reliefs which are beyond the scope of the petition or not sought by the petitioners.

The court invoked Article 142 in this case stating that to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter, it would be appropriate to exercise the powers conferred by the said article.

Supreme Court’s powers to order CBI probe

As per section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, CBI can investigate a crime only based on the recommendation of the concerned state which is probing the matter. However, that does not bar constitutional courts (i.e high courts and Supreme Court) from recommending CBI probe as has been held in a long line of Supreme Court judgments in the past, the court said.

No power to transfer investigation from one state to another in a transfer petition

Chakraborty had filed the transfer petition under section 406 of CrPC seeking transfer of probe from Bihar to Maharashtra. Section 406 confers powers on the Supreme Court to transfer cases from one high court to another or from a lower court in one state to a lower court in another state.

The Supreme Court held that the provision does not grant power to the top court to transfer a matter which is only at the investigation stage from one state to another.

“Having considered the contour of the power under section 406 CrPC, it must be concluded that only cases and appeals (not investigation) can be transferred,” the court ruled.

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