Supreme Court Disposes Rhea’s Transfer Petition in Sushant Singh Rajput Case

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The Supreme Court rejected Rhea Chakraborty’s transfer petition invoking Article 142. They also directed the transfer of any similar case in the future to the jurisdiction of CBI. It held that there is no parallel investigation in Mumbai but a mere inquiry.

Brief facts of the case

The death of Sushant Singh Rajput sparked a lot of controversy due to its suspicious and unnatural nature. The Mumbai Police registered a complaint under Section 174 of IPC and started a preliminary inquiry into the cause of the suicide. But, the deceased’s father filed an FIR in Patna against the Petitioner and others alleging misappropriation and breach of trust.

When the Mumbai Police showed non-cooperation with the team sent from Patna, the latter thought it pertinent to transfer the case to CBI under Section 6 of the DSEP Act.

Yet, the Petitioner, Rhea Chakraborty, alleged that she had been falsely accused. It was also alleged that the Mumbai Police is competent to undertake the whole investigation and hence the transfer petition. She prays for SC to exercise Article 142 and Section 406 of CrPC to transfer the Patna FIR to Mumbai.

Arguments

The Petitioner submits that the FIR in Patna does not disclose how her actions led to the actor’s death. She has cooperated with the Police and also asserts that she will cooperate with CBI too. She alleges that Patna police do not have lawful jurisdiction over the matter. Hence the transfer of the case to CBI through the Bihar Government is not lawful. Through her Counsel, Mr Shyam Divan, she argues that the complaint lodged by the actor’s father must be transferred to Mumbai. The reason being that two parallel investigations cannot take place.

The counsel appearing for the complainant, UOI, and the State of Bihar assert that the scope of investigation undertaken by the Mumbai Police under Section 174 of IPC is narrow. The filing of an FIR is still a contingency subject to the incumbent PI, which is limited to seeing the unnatural cause of death and does not extend to the abuse endured by the deceased. Light is also thrown on the non-cooperation of Mumbai Police when the team from Bihar Police visited. This led to allegations of malpractice and suppression of facts on the part of Mumbai police.

The Mumbai Police filed no FIR. Hence, the FIR in Patna is valid. Also, the consent given by the State of Bihar to CBI is lawful.

The State of Maharashtra, yet, denied all accusations of malpractice. They contended that Mumbai Police is looking into the matter and if any material fact has disclosed an FIR will be lodged. The offence ought to be tried in the local jurisdiction. The Patna police were supposed to file a zero FIR and transfer the same to Mumbai. Such flexibility in the jurisdiction will lead to obstruction of justice and impact the federal structure. The State also alleged political pressure is what led to Patna police filing the FIR.

Court’s Observations

The Bench recognized the importance of retaining public confidence in the impartial working of State agencies.

First, the Court analyzed the ambit of power under Section 406 of CrPC. It stated that it vests the power of the Court to transfer cases and appeals, not the investigation. The Court also observed that the investigation being carried out by Mumbai Police is not of a cognizable case and is an inquiry. Hence, it is not an investigation as per Section 157 of CrPC.

Further, looking at the nature of the allegations, the Patna police committed no illegality in registering this FIR. They were not obligated to transfer the FIR to Mumbai and so, the consent given to CBI is lawful. However, the incidents disclosed have taken place in Mumbai and states that Mumbai police do have jurisdiction over the matter. So, if their inquiry discloses a cognizable case and an FIR is lodged, CBI’s jurisdiction will be subject to Maharashtra Government’s consent as per Section 6 of the DSPE Act. This might lead to confusion in the future.

Hence, it is appropriate for the current bench to decide who should investigate the matter.

The Court holds that the CBI investigation is lawful. It was transferred to ensure that the matter is investigated with utmost credibility. The Court asserts that it has the power under Article 142 of the Constitution to pass such order to render justice. Both parties are alleging each other of political interference. All this controversy has led to excessive media attention and a rise in theories. It is pertinent to use Article 142 and ensure public confidence in investigation is unfettered, and the truth comes out.

Court’s Decision

The Court approved the ongoing CBI case and ordered that if any similar case is filed in Mumbai, CBI is to undertake the investigation. Hence, the Court disposed of the Transfer Petition.


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