The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that Bihar police had jurisdiction to register FIR in the Sushant Singh Rajput case at the complaint of his father, and held that transfer of investigation to CBI was valid.
The order was passed by a single bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy who held that the Bihar Police committed no illegality in registering an FIR on the basis of a complaint made by Sushant Singh's father, which disclosed commission of a cognizable offence.
While holding thus, the Top Court reiterated that a police officer cannot refrain from investigating a matter merely on "territorial grounds" and this issue can be decided after conclusion of the investigation.
"Registration of FIR is mandated when information on 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," it held. The bench referred to the oft-quoted precedent Lalitakumari vs State of UP in this regard.
This position of law was settled by the Top Court in Satvinder Kaur v. GNCTD, (1999) 8 SCC 728, and recently affirmed in Rasiklala Dalpatram Thakkar v. State of Gujarat (2010) 1 SCC 1, wherein it observed,
"it was not within the jurisdiction of the investigating agency to refrain itself from holding a proper and complete investigation merely upon arriving at a conclusion that the offences had been committed beyond its territorial jurisdiction."
Patna Police Had Jurisdiction Under Section 181 CrPC
The Bihar police had registered FIR under Sections 341(wrongful restraint), 342(wrongful confinement), 380(theft in dwelling house), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420(cheating), 306(abetment of suicide), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860,
The Court held that the Patna Police had "lawful jurisdiction" to register the FIR as the complaint lodged by the actor's father contained allegations of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of money.
The Court clarified that when allegations relate to commission of the abovementioned offences, the same can be inquired into by any Court, in terms of Section 181 of CrPC, within whose local jurisdiction the offence was committed or any part of the property which is the subject of the offence was received or retained, or "was required to be returned or accounted for, by the accused person".
In other words, the Court held that culpability is relatable even to the place at which consideration is required to be returned or accounted for(Referring to Lee Kun Hee, President, Samsung Corporation, South Korea & Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors., (2012) 3 SCC 132).
"...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 observed in this regard.
In this backdrop the Court held,
"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. For the same reason, the Bihar government was competent to give consent for entrustment of investigation to the CBI and as such the ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful."
No parallel investigation by Mumbai Police
The Top Court expressed agreement with the Respondents that for the time being, the Mumbai Police was conducting an inquiry into the "unnatural death" of the actor and there was no question of two cases pending in two different states.
It was argued that the Mumbai Police was not investigating into the allegations of the nature imputed in the FIR registered in Bihar.
"The proceeding under Section 174 CrPC is limited to the inquiry carried out by the police to find out the apparent cause of unnatural death. These are not in the nature of investigation, undertaken after filing of FIR under Section 154 CrPC," the Court observed.
However, it admitted to the future contingency of Mumbai Police taking cognizance of the case of unnatural death and refrained from expressing any view thereof. The Court said,
"The Police at Mumbai were conducting only a limited inquiry into the cause of unnatural death, under Section 174 CrPC and therefore, it cannot be said with certainty at this stage that they will not undertake an investigation on the other aspects of the unnatural death, by registering a FIR.
It is pre-emptive and premature to hold that a parallel investigation is being carried out by the Mumbai Police. In case of a future possibility of cognizance being taken by two courts in different jurisdictions, the issue could be resolved under Section 186 CrPC and other applicable laws. No opinion is therefore expressed on a future contingency and the issue is left open to be decided, if needed, in accordance with law."
Nothing to show any wrong doing by the Mumbai police, observes SC while handing over #SushantSingRajputDeathCase to CBI.Court also held that @MumbaiPolice had jurisdiction to investigate. But to avoid conflict, directed to hand over case to CBI.#CBIForSSR @Tweet2Rhea pic.twitter.com/V4pfTMLQ6M— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 19, 2020
Nothing to show any wrong doing by the Mumbai police, observes SC while handing over #SushantSingRajputDeathCase to CBI.Court also held that @MumbaiPolice had jurisdiction to investigate. But to avoid conflict, directed to hand over case to CBI.#CBIForSSR @Tweet2Rhea pic.twitter.com/V4pfTMLQ6M
Also Read: Investigations Cannot Be Transferred Invoking Powers Under Section 406 CrPC: SC
[Sushant Singh Rajput] Nothing To Show Any Wrong Doing By Mumbai Police; Probe By Agency Not Controlled By Both States Appropriate: SC
Case Name: Rhea Chakraborty Vs State of Bihar
Case no.: Transfer Petition (Crl.) No.225 of 2020
Coram: Justice Hrishikesh Roy
Counsel: Sr. Adv Shyam Divan, for the petitioner, Sr. Adv Maninder Singh for State of Bihar, Sr. Adv Vikas Singh, Senior Advocates Dr. A.M. Singhvi and R. Basant for State of Maharashtra, and SG Mr. Tushar Mehta, for Union of India
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