By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The case in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has reached a curious juncture. On Wednesday, counsel for Sushant’s father K.K. Singh, during the hearing of Rhea Chakraborty’s plea seeking transfer of case from Patna to Mumbai, contended before the Supreme Court that Bihar Police can continue with its investigations, but the Maharashtra government counsel opposed this, stating the eastern state lacks jurisdiction in the matter.
Legal experts reckon that the Bihar government may be hamstrung due to jurisdiction issues. Therefore, either the Maharashtra government can ask for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe or the top court may refer it to the agency for a fair inquiry.
Speaking to IANS, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi held that this is not a matter where the case set up is of two FIRs, one in Mumbai and the other in Bihar.
“However, it seems the crime alleged in Bihar FIR is one of abetment to suicide and the entire crime has happened in Mumbai. So, while Bihar Police are duty bound to register an FIR, they cannot investigate and will be bound to transfer the FIR to Mumbai Police,” he said.
On the jurisdiction issue with the Bihar government asking for a CBI probe into the matter, Dwivedi said that the Maharashtra government can contend that since Bihar has no jurisdiction to investigate, it cannot seek to refer the matter to the CBI.
“So, either Maharashtra asks for a CBI enquiry or the Supreme Court can itself refer the matter to the CBI for a fair inquiry and may monitor the investigation,” he said.
Senior advocate K.V. Viswanathan said that, in law, under the T.T. Anthony verdict of the Supreme Court, there can be only one FIR. “However, if the second FIR pertains to a counter case or deals with allegations which are qualitatively of a different character and point towards a totally different set of facts, such an FIR will not be hit by the Anthony principle, and it will be maintainable,” he added.
In the Sushant Singh case, he said, there is a contention that no FIR was registered in Mumbai, and only inquest proceedings were carried out.
“The question of territorial jurisdiction in Patna remains to be answered, under section 177 and 178 CrPC. That will depend on the facts of each case and the inquiry will be whether any part of the offence has also been committed in the local area of Patna,” Viswanathan added.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Sushant’s father, argued before the top court that his client is apprehensive about misdirection of the investigation by the Mumbai Police and, therefore, the Bihar Police should be permitted to carry on their investigation into the suspicious circumstances leading to the actor’s death.
He further argued that the Mumbai Police have just made an inquiry report into the suicide and there is no criminal case there. He also insisted the claim of Maharashtra that 56 statements have been recorded so far has no bearing on the investigation in the criminal offence in connection with Sushant’s death.
The Centre has informed the top court that in principle, the authorities have decided to accept the request of the Bihar authorities seeking a CBI probe into the matter.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)