Sushant Singh Rajput Case: The jurisdictional dilemma

Introduction

Sushant Singh Rajput was a very talented actor. His unnatural death has led to many questions in the minds of his friends, family members, and fans. All of these people want fair investigation which is free from political interferences. So, here we present the crux of the judgment for the transfer petition.

On 14th June 2020, actor Sushant Singh Rajput died of an unnatural death at his residence in Bandra, Mumbai. The unnatural death was thereafter reported to the Bandra Police Station u/s 174 of CrPC which provides power to the police to enquire and report on suicide, etc.

Facts of the case

Rhea Chakraborty filed a transfer petition u/s 406 of the Crpc, 1973 read with Order XXXIX of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013. Section 406 of the CrPC, 1973 gives the power to the Supreme Court to transfer cases and appeals from one High Court to another High Court or from a Criminal Court subordinate to one High Court to another Criminal Court of equal or superior jurisdiction subordinate to another High Court. Further, Order XXXIX of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 provides for the procedure for filing a transfer petition under section 406 of the CrPC, 1973.

This petition was for the transfer of the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the father of Sushant Singh Rajput, Krishan Kishor Singh. The FIR was reported under section 154 of the CrPC, 1973 on 25th July 2020 under sections 341, 342, 380, 406, 420, 306, 506 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).  The FIR was filed under sections which were related to punishment for wrongful restraint and confinement, theft in dwelling house, etc., criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, abetment of suicide, criminal intimidation and punishment for criminal conspiracy.

The FIR was registered at the Rajeev Nagar Police Station, Patna but Rhea wanted the transfer of FIR along with other proceedings from the jurisdiction of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate III, Patna Sadar to the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bandra, Mumbai.

The facts state that Rhea Chakraborty (the petitioner) and Sushant Singh Rajput (deceased) were in a live-in relationship and the petitioner had shifted to her own residence at Mumbai. The contention of the petitioner was that the complaint filed by the father of the deceased falls within the jurisdiction of the Bandra Police Station and therefore the investigation should be carried by the Bandra Police. It was also alleged that the complaint was filed at the Patna Police Station because of Political Pressure.

Contentions Of The Counsels

Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Shyam Divan argues that the transfer of the investigation to the CBI on the consent  of Government of Bihar, would not amount to a lawful consent of the State government, under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Act, 1946. According to the petitioner, the FIR does not disclose how the alleged actions of the petitioner, led to the suicidal death of the actor. The petitioner submits that the Court can invoke its powers under article 142 of the Constitution of India to provide complete justice.

The learned senior counsel for the State of Bihar, Mr. Maninder Singh submits that the Maharashtra Police is not empowered to investigate but to only find the cause of death as u/s 174 and 175 of the CrPC. He further argued that the Mumbai Police was not conducting any investigation but was obstructing the inquiry by the Patna Police.

The father of the deceased was represented by learned senior counsel Vikas Singh who also submitted that the investigation FIR at Patna can be done by the Patna Police. The action of Patna Police is contended to be within jurisdiction u/s 179 read with Section 181(4) of the CrPC which provide for the occurrence of consequences at another place, as a result of the alleged crime.  Also, the property of the deceased will have to be accounted to the Class I legal heir who is the father in this case.

Learned Senior Counsel Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared on behalf of the State of Maharashtra and contended that the Mumbai Police registered an Accidental Death Report(ADR) and started inquiry as per section 174 of the CrPC. Also, the Bihar Police should have transferred the case to Mumbai Police as per the jurisdiction. The learned counsel also pointed out that under the constitutional scheme the States have exclusive power to investigate a crime and thus the investigation cannot be transferred to the Central Agency.

Learned Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta appeared on behalf of the Union of India and the CBI. He contended that the FIR registered at Patna was the only one and no FIR was reported in Mumbai. Also, he referred to the political interventions in both the states and thus seeked investigation by an independent Central Agency. He also acknowledged that CBI registered FIR on the request of the Bihar Police and ED i.e. the Enforcement Directorate is also acting under the Prevention of Money

Laundering Act, 2002.

The Supreme Court observed that although, Police is a state subject under List II of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution but investigation of a crime by multiple authorities transgressing into others domain, is avoidable. Also, the records of this case prima facie do not suggest any wrong act by the Mumbai Police.

When can a case be transferred to the CBI?
The court observed that the transfer of cases to the CBI should only be done in exceptional cases. Reference was mad e to the case of Arnab Ranjan Goswami vs.Union of India which observed that “public confidence in the impartial working of the State agencies”
The court relied on the case of Ram Chander Singh Sagar and Anr. vs. State of TamilNadu where transfer of investigation was negated. Also, the court relied on Manoj K Sharma vs. State of Chhatisgarh and held that the investigation by the Mumbai Police under section 174 CrPC was limited for a definite purpose and is not an investigation u/s 157 of CrPC.The Supreme Court relied on the ratio in Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of UP and observed Satvinder Kaur vs. State (Govt of NCT of Delhi) in which Sections 177 and 178 of the CrPC were interpreted. The court thus held that it cannot be stated that the Patna Police Station did not have the territorial Jurisdiction. The Court thus held that the Patna police committed no illegality in registering the Complaint and the ongoing investigation by the CBI was lawful.
The bench referred to the cases of State of West Bengal vs. Sampat Lal and W B vs. Committeefor Protection of Democratic Rights (2010) and held that “While the CBI cannot conduct any investigation without the consent of the concerned state as mandated under section 6, the powers of the Constitutional Courts are not fettered by the statutory restriction of the DSPE Act.”The Supreme Court further held that if a new case is registered on the same issue then the same will be investigated by CBI. Also, the bench while relying on the case of Monica Kumar (Dr.) and Anr. vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others made it clear that Article 142 of the Constitution can be invoked in a deserving case to render Justice.
Now, the investigation is in the hands of CBI and the well-wishers of the deceased actor Sushant Singh Rajput are hopeful of fair investigation.

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Author

  • da6f15fd 2462 4760 87c1 e70a71316782

    Student of Law at Institue of Law Nirma University. He is interested in dispute resolution and litigation. He has authored several articles on Constitutional Law, Consumer Law, Information and Technology Law, Insurance Law etc.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of Legally Flawless or its members.

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