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Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case: An analysis by advocate Dharmananda Deb

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput`s death is currently one of the most discussed topics of the nations. While some claim that Sushant can`t commit suicide, others blame a few people related to the actor, who forced the actor to take such a step. So, the death case of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput is turning a new corner every day. The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it has accepted the Bihar Government’s recommendation for a CBI probe into the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. 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 and a case under 174 Cr. P.C was also registered on June 14. As per Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an Accidental Death Report is taken when an accidental death, suicidal death, or unnatural death comes to light. According to this Section, the Officer-in-charge of a police station receives information that a person has committed suicide..he/she shall proceed to the place where the body of such deceased person is, and there, draw up a report of the apparent cause of death, describing such wounds, fractures, bruises, and other marks of injury as may be found on the body, and stating in what manner, or by what weapon or instrument (if any); such marks appear to have been inflicted. The officer then records statements of the family members and those who can shed light behind the cause of death. If no one makes any allegations, suicide note does not blame anyone and the post mortem report does not indicate murder, an ACP rank officer then ends the report at ADR stage. According to Mumbai Police, the statement of 56 people have been recorded till now in connection with the actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case. This case is pending with the Authorities of the Bandra Police Station and the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bandra, Mumbai. The procedure under section 174 is for the purpose of discovering the cause of death, and the evidence taken is very short.

But on the other hand, on July 25, Rajput’s father viz. Krishna Kishore Singh, resident of Rajeevnagar, Dist.Patna, Bihar had lodged an FIR at Rajiv Nagar police station in Patna against actress Rhea Chakraborty and five other individuals, including her family member namely Indrajit Chakraborty, Sandhya Chakraborty Shobik Chakraborty, and two others Samuell Miranda and Shruti Modi and the said FIR was registered to vide FIR No. 241 of 2020 dated 25.07.2020 under IPC Section 306(Abetment of Suicide), Sec 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint), Sec 342 (Punishment for wrongful confinement), Sec 380 (Theft in dwelling house), Sec 406 (Punishment for criminal breach of trust), and Sec 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) pending within the jurisdiction of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate 3, Patna Sadar at Patna. The registration of the case led to the turf war between Mumbai Police and Bihar Police over jurisdiction of investigation.

Because two Police forces cannot probe the same cause of action simultaneously. In cases where a money laundering aspect emerges, the Enforcement Directorate registers an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) and restricts its probe to the money laundering aspect of it. Even in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, after his father alleged to Bihar Police that money had been transferred to unidentified accounts from Rajput’s bank account; the ED registered an ECIR under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). ED also summons Rhea Chakraborty and has been asked to appear before the agency at its Mumbai Office on 7th August and accordingly, she appeared before the ED and she is being questioned and also recorded her statement by the ED team. However, under regular crimes, if an offence has taken place in Mumbai and the family is in Bihar, as per law, they can go to the nearest police station in Bihar and register an FIR. The police station is duty-bound to register a “zero FIR” and transfer the case to the police station under whose jurisdiction the crime has taken place. In the current case, after registering the FIR, the Bihar Police themselves came to Mumbai to investigate the case instead of transferring the case to the local police.

On 29th July, actress Rhea Chakraborty has moved the Supreme Court and filed a Criminal Transfer Petition and seeking that the FIR be transferred to the Mumbai Police from the Bihar Police. This Criminal Transfer Petition was registered on 31st July vide Criminal Transfer Petition No.225 of 2020. Notably, in this Criminal Transfer Petitions case on 30th July a Caveat Petition has filed by Sushant`s father Krishna Kishore Singh and on the other hand on 31st July two caveats have been filed by both Maharashtra and Bihar State Government in the Apex Court seeking to be heard before passing any order on Rhea Chakraborty’s Criminal Transfer Petition.

It is out of place to mention here that in Narmada Bai –versus- State of Gujrat and others, on 8th day of April 2011, the Hon`ble Apex Court of India, in W.P(C) No.115/2007 held that the accused persons do not have a say in the matter of appointment of investigation agency and cannot choose as to which agency must investigate the offence committed by them. Recently, a three-Judge Bench reiterated the same on the 18th day of May 2018 in E.Shivkumar versus- Union of India and others.

In the meantime, Bihar police on 4th August 2020 had submitted a request to the Center to accept the request for CBI inquiry in actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s murder case. In the request, Home Department, Government of Bihar (Police Branch) Vide Notification No.9/C.B.I-80-09/2020HP 5101said, In exercise of the powers conferred under section-6 of the Delhi Police Establishment Act, 1946, the Governor of Bihar is pleased to accord his consent to exercise of powers and jurisdiction to whole of Bihar and other places related to the member of Delhi Special Police Establishment to investigate /supervise and inquire into the case.” But the question remains, can Bihar government order CBI probe into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death simply because his family resides in Bihar while the incident or alternatively speaking, crime, took place in some other state?

The CBI is not a statutory body, the same having been constituted not under any Statute, but under an Executive Order/Resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. In Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, the word CBI is, nowhere, mentioned, even though the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act has undergone several amendments. This apart, even the Executive Order, dated 1st April, 1963, does not disclose that the CBI has been constituted under the DSPE Act. Had it been so, the impugned Resolution would have so mentioned. It is also not correct that the CBI is merely a change of name of the DSPE, cannot stand the scrutiny of law inasmuch as the DSPE Act, 1946, specifically mentions, under Section 2, that the police force, constituted under the DSPE Act, shall be called Delhi Special Police Establishment. Hence, when the DSPE Act itself defines the name of the force, which the DSPE Act, has created and established, the argument that the CBI is merely a change of name of the DSPE cannot hold water. Had it been so, the name of the DSPE ought to have been changed in the DSPE Act itself; more so, when several amendments have, otherwise, been introduced into the DSPE Act. The CBI and the DSPE are not one and the same thing, but everybody appears to have proceeded on the basis that the CBI and DSPE are one and the same thing.

The Special Police Establishment was formed during World War II when a huge amount of funds were being used in the war and there emerged astronomic potential of corruption between the officers dealing with the supplies. This gave room for doubts and made the government of India pass an Executive Order in 1941 to form Special Police Establishment under the DIG in the department of war. But, not surprisingly, the corruption and bribery did not see an end and neither did the need for the central government agency to investigate such cases. Therefore, The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act came into force in 1946. The superintendence of SPE was transferred to the Home Department and its functions were broadened to cover all the Departments of the Government of India. It exercised its power over the union territories and could be extended to the states with the consent of the concerned states. The SPE was then put under the charge of the Director of Intelligence Bureau. It was in 1948 that a post of Inspector-General of Police, SPE was created and the agency was placed under his charge. The mighty CBI was named on 1-4-1963 by the Home Ministry of the Government of India (See, Resolution No. 4/31/61-T/MHA). This was done to broaden the concerning fields of investigation like the breach of the Central fiscal laws, frauds in Government Departments and PSUs and other serious crimes. In 1987, two divisions were created in the CBI known as Anti-Corruption Division and Special Crimes division. Due to the enormous workload related to bank frauds and economic offences, a separate Economic Offences wing was created in 1994.  But the question remains, Whether ’Central Bureau of Investigation’, popularly called CBI, is a constitutionally valid police force empowered to ’investigate’ crimes? The question is pending in the Apex Court of India vide SLP(C) No. 034834 / 2013 arising from the judgment and order dated 06/11/2013 in Writ Appeal (C) No.119/2008 in Writ Petition (C) No. 6877/2005 of the Gauhati High Court at Guwahati. A division bench of Gauhati high court had on November 6, 2013, quashed the April 1, 1963 Resolution constituting CBI under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and declared all its actions unconstitutional. On 9th November 2013, the Hon`ble Apex Court of India stayed the operation of the aforesaid order of  Gauhati High Court and the case is pending till date before the Apex Court of India.

In its FAQ section on its website, the CBI explains what types of Crime CBI investigate today.

CBI has grown into a multidisciplinary investigation agency over a period of time. Today it has the following three divisions for investigation of crime:-

(i) Anti-Corruption Division – for investigation of cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against Public officials and the employees of Central Government, Public Sector Undertakings, Corporations or Bodies owned or controlled by the Government of India – it is the largest division having presence almost in all the States of India.

(ii) Economic Offences Division – for investigation of major financial scams and serious economic frauds, including crimes relating to Fake Indian Currency Notes, Bank Frauds and Cyber Crime.

(iii) Special Crimes Division – for investigation of serious, sensational and organized crime under the Indian Penal Code and other laws on the requests of State Governments or on the orders of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

The laws under which CBI can investigate Crime are notified by the Central Government under section 3 of the DSPE Act. The complaints registered are usually transferred to these divisions based on the nature of such complaints.

In its FAQ section on its website, the CBI also explains the situation when it can take over the investigation of a criminal case registered by police. The CBI says it can probe a criminal case under three situations:

(a) The concerned state government makes a request to that effect and the central government agrees to it. The central government generally seeks comment of the CBI before deciding upon the request of the state government.

(b) The state government issues notification of consent under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (under which the CBI was created) and the central government issues notification under Section 5 of the Act. and

(c) The Supreme Court or a high court orders the CBI to take up such an investigation.

On 5th August, a bench headed by Justice Hrishikesh Roy in Criminal Transfer Petitions Case which was filed by actress Rhea Chakraborty sought a status report from Maharashtra Police on the investigation into Rajput’s death. The Apex Court bench also asked Maharashtra, Bihar and Sushant Singh Rajput’s father to file their replies on transfer petition within three days. The State of Maharashtra should apprise the Court on the stage of investigation by the Mumbai Police by the next date. The Apex court, which posted the matter for hearing in the next week. A bench headed by Justice Hrishikesh Roy said the truth behind Sushant’s death needs to come out. Truth should come out so far as the actor’s death is concerned,-the bench said. Accordingly, on 7th August 2020, the Government of Maharashtra has filed their reply on Affidavit in a sealed cover before the Supreme Court. The Bihar Government has also filed an Affidavit in the Supreme Court on 7th August, 2020 stating that the transfer petition is “misconceived and not maintainable”. The Bihar Govt. also stated that the Patna Police has jurisdiction to register the FIR and investigate it as per law laid down by the constitution bench of the Apex Court in Lalita Kumari -versus State of U.P.(2014).

As per Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE), 1946, the jurisdiction of CBI stretches over the Union Territories. However, as per Sec. 5 of DSPE Act, the Central Government may extend the jurisdiction of CBI to any State. The powers vested with the Central Government shall have to be exercised with the consent of the respective State Governments (Sec.6 of DSPE Act).

The next development came hours after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Government of India in the Supreme Court and told that- in principle, the Authorities have decided to accept the request of the Bihar Police Authorities.  The Centre on 5th August evening issued a notification asking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the investigation into the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension (Deptt of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension) Vide Notification No. F.No. 22812012020-AVD-11,dated-05/08/2020 said, In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (1) of Section 5 read with Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Act No. 25 of 1946) the Central Government, with the consent of the State Government of Bihar, issued vide Home Department (Police Branch) Notification No.9/C.B.1-80-09/2020 HP-5101/Patna, Dated 4th August 2020, hereby extends the powers and jurisdiction of the members of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to the whole State of Bihar for an investigation into the Rajiv Nagar Police Station, District Patna, Case No 241/2020 dated-25.072020 under sections 341, 342, 380, 406, 420, 306, 506 and 120 B IP.C. relating to the death of Bollywood actor Shushant Singh Rajput, and any attempt, abetment, and conspiracy, in relation to or in connection with such offence(s) and for for any other offence committed in the course of the same transaction or arising out of the same facts.

Accordingly, on 6th August, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) amid several speculations and decisions, the registered case against six accused and others (unknown friends of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput) Vide FIR No. RC2242020800, dated-06/08/2020 almost under the same sections of the law as done by the Bihar Police in this instant case. The Case was filed by Ravi Gambhir, SP, CBI, New Delhi. The case will be investigated by a team headed by Anil Kumar Yadav, SP, CBI. This team is currently investigating the Agusta  Westland scam and bank fraud case against Vijay Mallya will probe actor Sushant Singh Rajput case.

In conclusion, I fully agreed with the observation of Hon`ble Apex Court of India and the desire of  Lakhs of fans of SSR that the truth behind the death of  “gifted and talented” artist Sushant Singh Rajput should come out and the real culprit should be punished soon.

This is an authored article and the views expressed are author’s personal. 

 

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