In a recent Judgment dated 19-08-2020 that was passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India by J. Rishikesh Roy in a Transfer Petition (Crl) No. 225 of 2020 titled Rhea Chakraborty vs State of Bihar was filed by Actress, Rhea Chakraborty. The matter before the Supreme Court was whether the FIR filed by Mr. Krishan Kishore Singh (the Complainant), father of Late Sushant Singh Rajput (the Deceased) was maintainable in view of the fact that police investigations were underway in Mumbai.
The Transfer Petition that was filed was for transfer of FIR No. 241 of 2020 dated 25-07-2020 under Sections 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy), 306 (Abetment of suicide), 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint), 342 (Punishment for wrongful confinement), 380 (Theft in dwelling house, etc), 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust), and 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) filed at the Rajiv Nagar Police Station, Patna to Mumbai. The matter relates to the unnatural death of Actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, on 14-06-2020 at his residence in Bandra, Mumbai. It was alleged in the FIR that the Petitioner and the Deceased were in a live-in-relationship till 08-06-2020 when the Petitioner moved out. The Petitioner contended that incidents alleged in the Complaint filed in Bihar were entirely within the jurisdiction of the State of Maharashtra and as such the said FIR should be forwarded to the Police Station at Bandra, Mumbai for investigation. It was further alleged that despite want of jurisdiction the FIR was lodged in Patna because of the political pressure brought upon the Bihar Police. The Counsel for the Petitioner argued that just because the Complainant, i.e. Mr. Krishan Kishore Singh was a resident of Patna, it did not confer jurisdiction on the Bihar Police. He further argued that transfer of investigation to CBI on Bihar Government’s consent would not amount to lawful consent of the State Government as required under the Delhi Special Police Act 1946.
The Counsel for State of Bihar argued that allegations of criminal breach of trust, cheating and defalcation of the money from the account of the Deceased are offences within the jurisdiction of the Bihar Police. He further argued that Mumbai Police was merely contending an inquiry into the unnatural death of the Actor and such a proceeding is only limited to the cause of death and does not allow the Police to undertake any investigation. He also made a reference to the non-cooperation and obstruction of the Maharashtra Authorities to the Bihar Police when they reached Mumbai. He further stated that as no FIR was registered by the Mumbai Police, the action of the Bihar Police is legally justified and they can investigate into the matter. In the course of the inquiry by the Mumbai Police, they had recorded the statements of 56 persons and had the Post-Mortem Report, which could have enabled that Mumbai Police to register a FIR and initiate the investigation. The Counsel for Maharashtra also argued that when the father and other family members of the Deceased had given statements to the Mumbai Police, they never mentioned any allegations that have now been levied in the FIR. He therefore argued that the FIR was a result of an after-thought and improvements.
After hearing both Parties, the Learned Judge was of the view that four issues were before the Supreme Court for consideration:
“(a) Whether this Court has power to transfer investigation (not case or appeal) under Section 406 of the CrPC;
(b) Whether the proceeding under Section 174 CrPC conducted by the Mumbai Police to inquire into the unnatural death, can be termed as an investigation;
(c) Whether it was within the jurisdiction of the Patna Police to register the FIR and commence investigation of the alleged incidents which took place in Mumbai? As a corollary, what is the status of the investigation by the CBI on the consent given by the Bihar government; and
(d) What is the scope of the power of a single judge exercising jurisdiction under section 406 of the CrPC and whether this Court can issue direction for doing complete justice, in exercise of plenary power.”
J. Rishikesh Roy held that the Transfer Petition under Section 406 of CrPC was no doubt for securing the ends of justice. He however felt that the precedents on transfer of investigation had been decided in the case of Ram Chander Singh Sagar vs State of Tamil Nadu (1978) 2 SCC 35, where the Hon’ble J. Krishna Iyer had stated that the power of the court under Section 406 could be exercised only when the matter was before a sub-ordinate court and not for transfer of investigation from one police station to another. He therefore concluded herein, that as the case related to investigations that ought to be transferred, the Hon’ble Supreme Court could not decide upon the same in the said Transfer Petition.
He observed that the Mumbai Police has attempted to stretch the purview of Section 174 CrPC without filing any FIR and as such they could not investigate into matters other than the cause of death. The Mumbai Police was therefore not holding a parallel investigation as alleged by the Petitioner. Whereas, the Patna Police had the jurisdiction to investigate the matter as the Complainant had alleged commission of a cognizable offence which made it incumbent upon the Bihar Police to register a FIR and commence investigations. According to the Complainant, he had made several attempts from Patna to talk to his son, but the same was thwarted by the Accused Persons which he felt caused his son to take the dire step. It is his contention that had he been allowed to speak to his son, he would have been able to change the thought process of his son and prevented his death.
The Judge further held that the allegation related to criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of money which were to be eventually accounted for in Patna, prima facie indicated that the Patna Police had proper jurisdiction. While referring to another Supreme Court Judgment Lee Kun Hee, President, Samsung Corporation, South Korea and Others Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. (2012) 3 SCC 132, he was of the view that only the Patna Police had the jurisdiction due to the nature of the offences. He relied on the following Para:
“Moreover, 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.”
He further noted that the FIR at Patna was subsequently transferred to the CBI with the consent of the Bihar Government during the pendency of the Transfer Petition. He held that in future if commission of a cognizable offence is determined there is a possibility of parallel investigation by the Mumbai Police.
He finally concluded by referring to the inherent power of the Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Constitution is necessary to do complete justice in any matter pending before it. Having in mind the peculiar circumstances of the present case he observed that the Actor, Sushant Singh Rajput was a talented actor in the Mumbai film world and died before his potential could be realised. His family, friends and admirers are keenly waiting the outcome of the investigation so that all speculations floating around can be put to rest. 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. The Petitioner too had asked for CBI investigation. The dissemination of true facts through unbiased investigation would certainly result in justice for the innocent. He further stated equally importantly, when integrity and credibility of the investigation is discernible, the trust, faith and confidence of the common man must be considered. He further added “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.”
It was finally concluded that while according approval for CBI investigation if any other case is registered on the death of the Actor, Sushant Singh Rajput in the surrounding circumstances of his unnatural death, the CBI is directed to investigate the new case as well.
Sushila Ram Varma
The Indian Lawyer