The Bihar government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that “political clout” has not allowed Mumbai Police to even register an FIR in the Sushant Singh Rajput”s suicide case, even as the Maharashtra government maintained Bihar completely lacks jurisdiction in the matter.
Both the state governments were at loggerheads before the apex court, which reserved its verdict on actress Rhea Chakraborty”s plea seeking transfer to Mumbai of the FIR lodged in Patna against her for allegedly abetting the suicide of the 34-year-old actor.
While Chakraborty’s counsel told a bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy that probe by Mumbai Police has “proceeded quite substantially” as it has recorded statements of 56 persons in the case, the lawyer representing Rajput’s father, who lodged the FIR in Patna, countered the submissions said they have “no faith” in Maharashtra Police.
Raising questions over the alleged suicide, senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Rajput’s father Krishna Kishore Singh, said that mark on the actor”s neck does not appear to be from hanging and it appears to be of a belt.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that the only FIR lodged in the case was in Bihar and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also started its separate probe in the matter.
During the three-hour long arguments conducted through video-conferencing, senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for Chakraborty, said that FIR registered by Rajput’s father has “absolutely no connection with any offence in Patna” and there was considerable delay of around 38 days in its lodging.
“There appears to be considerable amount of state interference and influence and therefore there is an apprehension of bias,” Divan said, while urging the top court to allow Chakraborty’s transfer petition.
Referring to media reports, Divan, while claiming “political bias” in the case, said that FIR was lodged at the instance of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Bihar’s minister Sanjay Jha.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Bihar, countered Divan’s submissions and said that there is no “political pressure” in Bihar and the FIR lodged there was the only FIR lodged in connection with the case.
“There was complete refusal in registering FIR in Mumbai. May be there was political pressure in Maharashtra. There is no political pressure in Bihar,” Maninder Singh said, adding there was “non-cooperation” from Mumbai Police and even the postmortem report was not given to Bihar Police.
While arguing that the FIR lodged at Patna is “legal and valid”, he also raised the issue of quarantining of a senior Patna Police officer in Mumbai.
He said allegations have been made based on media reports against the Bihar Chief Minister but there were reports also about alleged role of Maharashtra Chief Minister”s son.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Maharashtra, told the bench that Bihar has no jurisdiction in the case and no complaint was made to the Mumbai Police till date by Sushant’s father in the matter.
Singhvi said he has never seen such sensationalisation being attached to a transfer petition and that the media has made it “abnormal”.
Questioning the Bihar government’s jurisdiction in recommending CBI probe, Singhvi said, “The only thing they could have transferred to the Mumbai Police is a Zero FIR. They (Bihar) have transferred something on which they had no jurisdiction”.
“You may have steaming anchors and steaming headlines…but sensationalism cannot change the law,” Singhvi said and referred to the federal structure.
He said that every reporter, anchor, lawyer and others have become “jury, judge and executioner” and law is the biggest casualty in this.
Singhvi also said that “murder of the CrPC is being attempted here”.
Counsel for Rajput’s father said he only wanted proper investigation in the case and according to him Mumbai Police was not investigating in the right direction.
He said the family of Rajput has not seen the body hanging and what they had seen was his body lying on the bed.
The Solicitor General argued that no FIR has been lodged in Mumbai and unless an FIR is lodged under section 154 of CrPC and the concerned magistrate intimated, there cannot be any investigation.
While reserving the verdict, the bench asked the parties concerned to file their written submissions of not more than two pages each by August 13.
Chakraborty’s counsel told the bench that a “huge parallel media trial” is going on in the case.
The bench told Divan that in Chakraborty”s petition, there is a request related to the CBI investigation. “It is another aspect how the CBI will come in,” it said.
Divan said he wanted a fair probe by a fair investigating agency.
He said there are considerable issues on how Bihar had recommended a CBI probe and how subsequent orders were issued.
“I (Rhea) stand by what I have stated in my petition and my additional affidavit,” he said.
Rajput, 34, was found hanging from the ceiling of his apartment in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on June 14 and since then Mumbai Police has been probing the case keeping in mind various angles.
The FIR in Patna has been registered against Chakraborty and others for alleged offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 306 (abetment of suicide), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) and 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).