The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its orders in a plea filed by Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty seeking transfer of an FIR filed against her from Patna to Mumbai.
The Court also asked all parties to submit a written note by Thursday, August 13.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy heard all parties involved, who had complied with the Court's August 5 Order, directing them to file their responses within 3 days to Chakraborty's plea to transfer the case. The State of Maharashtra had also filed its report regarding the status of the investigation.
Representing Chakraborty, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan asserted that it was only the Mumbai Police who had the authority to handle the case, while Patna Police had no jurisdiction to have registered the case at all.
"Bandra Police Station has the jurisdiction to handle this case. I would like to point out that Rajeev Nagar is the address of Sushant's father, which is where the FIR was filed. This has no consequence. Patna police has no jurisdiction to register a case", argued Divan.
He also informed Court that, according to law, if an FIR is registered at a place where the crime was not committed, a ZERO FIR could be registered and transferred to the State which had jurisdiction.
Divan went on to inform the court of the 'considerable delay' in the filing of the FIR in Bihar, which took place nearly 38 days after the actor's death. On the other hand, added the senior advocate, the Mumbai Police is doing substantial work and has already recorded 56 witness statements.
Highlighting this delay in filing an FIR, Divan went on to aver that there was an apprehension with regard to justice being done if the Bihar police were allowed to continue the probe, due to State involvement, bias and media trial that has engulfed this case.
Buttressing his point, Divan pointed out how the case is riddled with political agenda, which is being propelled by political pressure being mounted by news reports.
"Justice shall only be met if my client's prayers are allowed…The ends of justice, in this case, are met by granting a transfer from Patna to Mumbai…When My lord is considering the 'ends of Justice', all these aspects become extremely important including political pressure and agendas as well as the delay in filing FIR against Rhea Chakraborty", urged the petitioner's counsel.
Divan alluded to the political mileage which is being grappled with in this case and the political pressure for registration of FIR against the actress who is being victimized for the allegations made against her by the late actor's family. Having laid down the averments made by Rajput's father against Chakraborty, Divan added that "an element of the usage of this case for political agendas is apparent. My lords must also consider that there are real people involved in this case. Rhea Chakraborty was in love with the deceased, and now she is now being trolled and victimized…the media is sensationalizing the late actor's case. A huge media trial is being played out, which is extremely undesirable."
Having referred to news reports which "strongly suggest a lot of political force has been used in order to register an FIR against her" Divan argued that a fair agency must investigate the matter.
In this light, he pointed out that the CBI released a notification immediately after the Bihar Government recommended a CBI probe. Thus, the Mumbai Police must investigate, he argued.
"The manner in which they have tried to sidestep the jurisdiction of the Court has also caused disquiet", concluded Divan.
Divan now apprising the bench about Area Jurisdictions in criminal cases.Divan refers to Section 156(2) of the CRPC.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 11, 2020
Divan now apprising the bench about Area Jurisdictions in criminal cases.Divan refers to Section 156(2) of the CRPC.
Sushant Singh's Death Being Sensationalized;Media Trial Causing Trauma : Rhea Chakraborty Tells SC
Appearing for the State of Bihar, senior advocate Maninder Singh rebutted the argument of political pressure in his State and stated, there was no investigation being carried out by the Mumbai police since there was no FIR that had been registered in the State.
Singh: "The inquiry investigation under Sections 174 and 175 of CRPC have to be carried out. Registration of FIR was extremely necessary to come to the aspect of whether the death of Rajput was homicide or suicide. The Mumbai Police did not do so! 56 witnesses examined by Mumbai police, but Maharashtra has not registered an FIR. It only mentions Sections 174 & 175 (of CrPC) and comes straight to examining witnesses?"
Having pointed this out, Singh alleged that there was political pressure in Maharashtra and not Bihar, because of which the Police had failed to register an FIR. "Looks like there is political pressure in Maharashtra which disallowed the registration of an FIR in the case", he said.
Singh also relied on this point to defend allegations of delay on part of the Bihar police in registering an FIR.
"As far as the delay in filing of FIR by Bihar Police is concerned, there is no activity by the Mumbai Police. It is pertinent to note that my FIR is the only FIR in this case. What I have done regarding registration of the FIR is my duty as the Government. Whether there is jurisdiction or not will be looked into when investigation is complete", iterated Singh.
He further submitted that it was the obligation of the Investigating Officer to conduct the investigation, regardless of territorial jurisdiction.
"Your lordship's judgment in Talvinder Singh says that it is the duty to register the FIR & undertake an investigation in cognizable offences."
In conclusion, Singh stated that no investigation was being conducted by the Mumbai police and Rhea's plea was not maintainable.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the State of Maharashtra, argued that "murder of the Code of Criminal Procedure" was on display here, where jurisdiction is the casualty.
He urged that this matter was not one of the jurisdiction of Bihar or Maharashtra, but of subverting the process of law.
Having submitted the report of the investigation, under Section 174 of CrPC, in a sealed cover, Singhvi elaborated on the politics and sensationalism involved around this case.
Singhvi: "The amount of sensationalism attached to a transfer petition, I have never seen. Everybody has become judge, juror, prosecution. The murder of the CrPC is being attempted here. This case is nothing but politics. In light of the impending elections in Bihar. Once election over, nobody would hear the case...Has your lordship ever seen a state so desperately pursuing a case for prosecution? I think not."
The senior counsel pointed out that the only claim regarding Bihar having the jurisdiction to investigate this case was that the deceased belonged to that State.
He averred to Supreme Court's findings in the recent Arnab Goswami case to argue that the registration of a case is State-specific only. Again arguing that there was more at stake here than jurisdiction, Singhvi elaborated as follows-
"If any of these submissions are allowed, it will be a travesty. The word federalism is not mentioned anywhere in the constitution. It is the only word which is not in the preamble but has been held to be part of basic structure!"
Singhvi for Maharashtra: Has your lordships ever seen a state so desperately pursuing a case for prosecution? I think not. If any of these submissions are allowed, it will be a travesty. #RheaChakraborty #SCForSushant #CBIforShushant— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 11, 2020
Singhvi for Maharashtra: Has your lordships ever seen a state so desperately pursuing a case for prosecution? I think not. If any of these submissions are allowed, it will be a travesty. #RheaChakraborty #SCForSushant #CBIforShushant
With regard to the issue of transferring the matter to the CBI, Singhvi added that the same usually happens only in "rare and exceptional cases" while questioning the authority of a Single Judge to order the transfer of a case to the CBI. "Without a finding of perversity, no reason for it to go to the CBI", he concluded.
'Without Valid Consent From Maharashtra Govt., CBI Has No Jurisdiction To Investigate Sushant Singh Rajput's Death': Mumbai Police Tells SC [Read Petition]
Representing Sushant's family, senior advocate Vikas Singh alleged that Chakraborty did not allow the deceased actor to speak to his father. In this light, he agreed with Singhvi that the CrPC was being 'murdered' but by Chakraborty.
Hinting at the politics of the situation, Singh alluded to Patna IPS officer Vinay Tiwari being quarantined by BMC on August 2. He alleged that the BMC wrongly quarantined Tiwari, and on August 3, immediately amended the rules applicable for putting someone under home quarantine.
In light of this, and given the fact that the family has lost their son, Singh urged Court to give its approval for a CBI enquiry.
Arguing on behalf of the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that there was no FIR registered in Mumbai, the 'so-called investigation' had termed Rajput's death a suicide and that there was no case pending in the case in Mumbai to argue that all action taken by the Mumbai Police is bad in law.
Arguing extensively that the Mumbai Police had not followed procedure, Mehta stated as follows:
"How could they not follow a procedure? Why not register an FIR under Section 154 of the Criminal Code? Why not intimate Magistrate under 157?Whatever has been done in terms of the so-called "investigation" by Mumbai Police in Sushant Singh Rajput's case does not stand the test of law."
SG for #CBI: Whatever has been done in terms of the so-called "investigation" by @MumbaiPolice into #SushantSinghRajputDeathCase —- does not stand test of law.#CBICantBeDeniedForSSR— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 11, 2020
SG for #CBI: Whatever has been done in terms of the so-called "investigation" by @MumbaiPolice into #SushantSinghRajputDeathCase —- does not stand test of law.#CBICantBeDeniedForSSR
The Solicitor General went on to discount the statements taken by the Mumbai Police and reminded Court that an investigation must take place as per law.
"The recorded statements which run into 56 in number as absolutely irrelevant because no process of law followed by the Police…Your lordships are dealing with the investigation as understood in law per se, whether the investigation itself is valid in law and not the validity of Bihar's FIR" he concluded.
After rejoinder arguments, Justice Roy reserved his Order and asked all parties to submit a note with their written submissions by August 13.
[Sushant Singh Death Case] Mumbai Police Siding With Rhea, Not Cooperating With Investigation: Bihar Govt. Tells SC [Read Affidavit]
Rhea Chakraborty had approached the Top Court last month, seeking transfer of the FIR from Patna to Mumbai and stay on the investigation by the Bihar police on the allegations of Rajput's father that she abetted suicide of his actor son.
However, the Single Judge bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy refused to grant a stay in the Bollywood actress's plea, and granted 3 days to all parties to file a reply and sought an update from State of Maharashtra on the Investigation done by Mumbai Police.
Chakraborty's move to rush to the Top court assumes significance in view of the fact that a four-member probe team of Bihar police is already in Mumbai and may seek to interrogate the actress as the FIR lodged at Patna by Rajput's father, K K Singh, contained allegations of severe criminal offences such as abetment of suicide and criminal breach of trust under the IPC.
Upon Singh's complaint, on July 25, an FIR was lodged at the Rajiv Nagar police station in Patna against Chakraborty and six others, including her family members. The FIR attracts various sections of IPC including 306 (abetment of suicide), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).
Rhea Chakraborty has already recorded her statement with the Mumbai police.
A day before the hearing, on August 10, Chakraborty filed a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the late actor's death was a case of suicide and is "being blown out of proportion" due to the impending elections in Bihar.
The sad incident of the death of Sushant Singh Rajput who hailed from Bihar unfortunately occurred just in wake of elections in Bihar. This has led to the issue of suicide of deceased being isolated and blown out of proportion" says Rhea in her affidavit.
Chakraborty alleges that the issue has been sensationalised by media channels where all witnesses are being examined and cross-examined and she has been convicted "even before foul play in the death of Sushant Singh Rajput is established".
In her affidavit before the Top Court, she has drawn corollaries of the Late actor's case with the 2G scam case and the unfortunate Arush Talwar murder case, stating that this media trial has caused here "extreme trauma" and has "infringed her of privacy".
Rajput, aged 34, was found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on June 14 and since then the Mumbai police has been probing the case keeping in mind various angles.
His suspected death by suicide has triggered a debate on alleged nepotism and favouritism in the Hindi film industry, with several political leaders and film personalities demanding a CBI investigation.