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[Sushant Singh Rajput] Nothing To Show Any Wrong Doing By Mumbai Police; Probe By Agency Not Controlled By Both States Appropriate: SC

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
19 Aug 2020 9:55 AM GMT
[Sushant Singh Rajput] Nothing To Show Any Wrong Doing By Mumbai Police; Probe By Agency Not Controlled By Both States Appropriate: SC
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"The records of the case produced before this Court, does not prima facie suggest any wrong doing by the Mumbai Police"
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While approving the ongoing CBI investigation in the case related to the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the Supreme Court observed that there was nothing on record to prima facie suggest any "wrongdoing on the part of Mumbai police".

A single bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed that the Mumbai police was carrying out a "limited inquiry" under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (inquiry process into unnatural death) and was yet to register an FIR under Section 154 CrPC in respect to the suicide of the actor.

Therefore, the Court said, that "it cannot be said with certainty at this stage that they(Mumbai police) will not undertake an investigation on the other aspects of the unnatural death, by registering a FIR".

At the same time, the Court disapproved the Mumbai police action of putting the Bihar police officers into quarantine and observed that such obstruction "could have been avoided since it gave rise to suspicion on the bonafide of their inquiry".

"The records of the case produced before this Court, 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 bonafide of their inquiry. 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", the judgment stated.

The Court also observed that the incidents referred to in the Complaint (death of Sushant Singh Rajput in Mumbai) "does indicate that the Mumbai police also possess the  jurisdiction to undertake investigation on those circumstances".

However, the bench added that "as the CBI has already registered a case and commenced investigation at the instance of the Bihar government, uncertainty and confusion must be avoided in the event of Mumbai Police also deciding to simultaneously investigate the cognizable offence, based on their finding in the inquiry proceeding".

While stating that the steps so far taken by the Mumbai Police cannot be faulted, the Court said that investigation must be handed over to an "independent agency not controlled by either of the two-state governments" considering the apprehension of unfair investigation raised.

"While the steps taken by the Mumbai police in the limited inquiry under Section 174 CrPC may not be faulted on the material available before this Court, considering the apprehension voiced by the stakeholders of unfair investigation, this 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", the Court said.

The Court made these observations while disposing of the application filed by actor Rhea Chakraborty - who is facing allegations of having abetted Sushant Singh's suicide - seeking transfer of the FIR registered by Bihar police to Mumbai.

The bench stated that "as both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, legitimacy of investigation has come under a cloud". This was cited as a ground to invoke Article 142 to hold that CBI investigation was appropriate in the case.

"...as because 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". 

The Court also noted that Rhea Chakraborty, the petitioner, has no objection for investigation by the CBI, "but is sceptical about the bonafide of the steps taken by the Bihar government and the Patna police".

"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.

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 ordered.

Also Read other reports about the judgment :

Investigations Cannot Be Transferred Invoking Powers Under Section 406 CrPC: SC [Read Judgment]

[Sushant Singh Rajput] CBI Probe Appropriate To Ensure 'Public Confidence', Says SC To Invoke Article 142

Click here to download judgment

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