SC orders CBI probe into unnatural death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the unnatural death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput saying, “A fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour.”
“When truth meets sunshine, justice will not prevail on the living alone but after Life’s fitful fever, now the departed will also sleep well. Satyameva Jayate,” a Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy said, rejecting Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty’s plea for transfer of an FIR lodged in Patna against her by the deceased actor’s father to Mumbai.
“For the petitioner (Rhea) too, it will be the desired justice as she herself called for a CBI investigation. The dissemination of the real facts through unbiased investigation would certainly result in justice for the innocents, who might be the target of a vilification campaign.
“Equally importantly, when integrity and credibility of the investigation is discernible, the trust, faith and confidence of the common man in the judicial process will resonate,” the top court said.
Rhea – who was in a live-in relationship with Sushant (34) had left his place on June 8 and shifted to her own residence in Mumbai, barely six days before he was found hanging at his Bandra house under mysterious circumstances on June 14. Mumbai Police said it was a suicide and that he was suffering from depression.
While giving approval for the ongoing CBI investigation, the top court said, “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 said, “In the event a new case is registered at Mumbai on the same issue, in the fitness of things, it would be appropriate if the latter case too gets investigated by the same agency, on the strength of this Court’s order.”
The top court held that registration of an FIR at Patna in Sushant’s case by his father KK Singh and its subsequent transfer to CBI at the behest of the Bihar government was right.
“It must be held that the Patna police committed no illegality in registering the complaint. 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,” the court said.
On Wednesday, Sushant’s father issued a statement declaring himself to be Sushant’s legal heir and took exception to some lawyers issuing statements to the media claiming to have been authorised by his late son. He said he has authorised only advocate Varun Singh and senior advocate Vikas Singh to speak on his behalf.
As a single judge, Justice Roy chose to exercise extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, saying, it was required in the peculiar circumstances in the case and “to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter”.
Describing Sushant as “a talented actor in the Mumbai film world” who “died well before his full potential could be realised”, the court noted that his family, friends and admirers were keenly awaiting the outcome of the investigation so that all the speculations floating around could be put to rest. The credibility of the investigation and the investigating authority, must be protected, it added.
“Therefore a fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour. The expected outcome then would be a measure of justice for the complainant, who lost his only son,” Justice Roy said.
The court gave a clean chit to Mumbai Police, saying “The records of the case produced before this Court, does not prima facie suggest any wrongdoing by the Mumbai Police.” However, it said, “Their obstruction to the Bihar police team at Mumbai could have been avoided since it gave rise to suspicion on the bona fide of their inquiry.”
Noting that because of “acrimonious allegations of political interference” levelled by Maharashtra and Bihar governments against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud, the top court said, “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 a situation, there is reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim,” it said.