In the matter of Rhea Chakraborty v. State of Bihar & Ors., a single bench of Supreme Court ruled CBI investigation into the high profile suicide case of Actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The Supreme Court found no illegality in the registration of FIR by Bihar Police and refused to transfer the investigation to Mumbai Police. The Supreme Court observed that in the event of no FIR registration by Mumbai Police, it cannot be said that a parallel investigation is going on.
A backdrop of the case
This Transfer Petition was filed by Rhea Chakraborty under section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 with prayer for transfer of the FIR under Sections 341, 342, 380, 406, 420, 306, 506 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 registered at the Rajeev Nagar Police Station, Patna, and all consequential proceedings to Mumbai Police. The matter relates to the unnatural death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput on 14.6.2020, at his Bandra residence at Mumbai.
Whether Supreme Court can transfer investigation under Section 406 of CrPC
On this issue, the Supreme Court clarified that in the event of no registration of FIR, an inquiry under Section 174 of CrPC cannot be termed as an investigation. Justice Hrishikesh Roy said, “only cases and appeals (not investigation) can be transferred. It is pre-emptive and premature to hold that a parallel investigation is being carried out by the Mumbai Police. It is declared that the inquiry conducted under Section 174 CrPC by the Mumbai police is limited for a definite purpose but is not an investigation of a crime under Section 157 of the CrPC.”
Whether Patna Police has Jurisdiction to register Complaint
On this issue, the Supreme Court clarified that under Section 181(4) which deals with place of trial in cases of Criminal Misappropriation and Criminal Breach of Trust complaint can be registered at the place where it is accounted. The Supreme Court said, ” 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. it must be held that the 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. At the stage of investigation, they were not required to transfer the FIR to Mumbai police.
Investigation entrusted to CBI by invoking Article 142
By invoking its plenary power under Article 142, the Supreme Court entrusted the investigation to CBI while holding no consent is required by CBI under Section 6 of the DPSE Act from the concerned state. It is held that in the event of a new case registered by Mumbai Police, in the fitness of things, it would be appropriate if the same also gets investigated by CBI, avoiding the rigours of Section 6 of DPSE Act. The Supreme Court said, “to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter, this Court considers it appropriate to invoke the powers conferred by Article 142 of the Constitution.”
The apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim
The Supreme Court while concerning the delay in investigation has observed, “both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud. Accusing fingers are being pointed and people have taken the liberty to put out their own conjectures and theories. Such comments, responsible or otherwise, have led to speculative public discourse which have hogged media limelight. These developments unfortunately have the propensity to delay and misdirect the investigation. In such situation, there is reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim.
Fair, Competent, and impartial investigation is the need of the hour
At last, the Supreme Court concludes by saying, ” The actor 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 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 expected outcome then would be, a measure of justice for the Complainant, who lost his only son.
Read the judgment here Rhea Chakraborty v. State of Bihar & Ors.