The SC also asked the Mumbai police to hand over all evidence it collected so far to the CBI.
“According approval” to the ongoing CBI probe into the FIR against actress Rhea Chakraborty in connection with the “unnatural death” of ”talented actor” Sushant Singh Rajput, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday that any other case lodged in the matter will be probed by the premier agency itself.
A fair, competent and impartial investigation is the ”need of the hour”, the top court said, holding that the CBI probe is ”lawful” and the Bihar government was competent to give consent for entrustment of investigation to the CBI.
Putting a quietus to the ongoing high-decibel political statements for and against the CBI probe, the top court held that Patna Police had not committed illegality in lodging an FIR against Chakraborty and six others on the complaint of Rajput’s father, who has accused them of abetting the suicide of the 34-year-old actor.
There has been a rising clamour for CBI probe to unravel the mystery surrounding Rajput’s death. Rajput was found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on June 14 and since then Mumbai Police has been probing the case keeping in mind various angles.
A bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted in his 35-page verdict that as both Bihar and Maharashtra are ”making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other”, the legitimacy of probe has come under a cloud and in such a situation there is a reasonable apprehension of ”truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim”.
The verdict came on a plea filed by Chakraborty who had sought transfer of the FIR lodged against her at Patna to Mumbai.
”Therefore, while according approval for the ongoing CBI investigation, 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 is directed to investigate the new case as well. It is ordered accordingly,” the bench said, while invoking the plenary power under Article 142 of the Constitution.
”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,” it said. When integrity and credibility of investigation is discernible, the trust, faith and confidence of common man in judicial process will resonate, it said.
”In such backdrop, 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. As a Court exercising lawful jurisdiction for the assigned roster, no impediment is seen for exercise of plenary power in the present matter,” the bench said.
It said ”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,” it said.
It held that inquiry conducted under Section 174 of CrPC, which deals with inquiry to find out apparent cause of unnatural death, by Mumbai Police is ”limited for a definite purpose but is not an investigation of a crime under section 157 of the CrPC.”
”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,” it said.
”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,” it said. The bench said for Chakraborty too, it would be the desired justice as she herself called for a CBI investigation.
”The dissemination of the real facts through unbiased investigation would certainly result in justice for the innocents, who might be the target of vilification campaign,” it said.
It said records of case produced before it, ”does not prima facie suggest any wrong doing by the Mumbai Police”.
”However, their obstruction to the Bihar police team at Mumbai could have been avoided since it gave rise to suspicion on the bona fide of their inquiry,” the court said.
It said considering the apprehension voiced by stakeholders of ”unfair investigation”, the 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”.
”Most importantly, the credibility of the investigation and the investigating authority, must be protected,” it said. ”The ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful. In the event a new case is registered at Mumbai on the same issue, in the fitness of things, it would be appropriate if the latter case too gets investigated by the same agency, on the strength of this court’s order. Such enabling order will make it possible for the CBI to investigate the new case, avoiding the rigors of Section 6 of the DSPE Act, requiring consent from the State of Maharashtra,” it said.
Bihar government, which was represented by senior advocate Maninder Singh and lawyer Keshav Mohan, had earlier argued that ”political clout” has not allowed Mumbai Police to even register an FIR in the case. The Maharashtra government had argued that Bihar completely lacks jurisdiction in the matter.