Court upholds Patna FIR, says obstruction to Bihar Police in Mumbai gave rise to suspicion
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Patna Police FIR to probe the alleged abetment to suicide of film star Sushant Singh Rajput and subsequent transfer of the case to the CBI. The verdict came in response to actress Rhea Chakraborty’s plea seeking transfer of the Patna Police FIR to Mumbai.
The SC said the obstructions for the Bihar Police team in Mumbai while investigating the Patna FIR registered by Rajput’s father should have been avoided as it gave rise to suspicion on the bonafide of the Mumbai Police’s enquiry.
“The records of the case produced before this court does not prima facie suggest any wrongdoing by the Mumbai Police. However, their obstruction to the Bihar Police team at Mumbai could have been avoided since it gave rise to suspicion on the bonafide of their enquiry,” the court said.
The SC ruling ordering the CBI probe came when a single judge bench exercised the special powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.
Justice Hrishikesh Roy cited the Justice LS Panta judgment, “Under Article 142 of the Constitution, this court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause” or “matter” pending before it. The expression “cause” or “matter” would include any proceeding pending in court and it would cover almost every kind of proceeding in court, including civil or criminal.”
“This court’s (SC) power under Article 142(1) to do complete justice is entirely of different level and of a different quality. What would be the need of ‘complete justice’ in a cause or matter would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case and while exercising that power the court would take into consideration the express provisions of a substantive statute,” said Justice Roy citing the Panta judgment.
Justice Roy further said, “The above ratio makes it amply clear that the Supreme Court in a deserving case, can invoke Article 142 powers to render justice. The peculiar circumstances, in this case, require that complete justice is done in this matter. How this is to be achieved must now be decided.”
Justice Roy underlined that the Bihar and Maharashtra Governments are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, and the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud. “These developments, unfortunately, have the propensity to delay and misdirect the investigation. In such a situation, there is a reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim,” observed Justice Roy.
He asserted that to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter, the court considers it appropriate to invoke the powers conferred by Article 142 of the Constitution.
Justice Roy turned down the Maharashtra Government’s arguments that ordinarily, the local police should conduct an investigation into any reported crime and entrustment of the investigation to the CBI must be an exception to meet extraordinary exigencies, and the consent given by Bihar Government, was for political exigencies.
“As a court exercising lawful jurisdiction for the assigned roster, no impediment is seen for exercise of plenary power in the present matter,” said Justice Roy invoking Article 142 to transfer the Sushant Singh Rajput death case to the CBI.
The top court further noted that the Mumbai Police were conducting only a limited inquiry into the cause of unnatural death, under Section 174 CrPC and therefore, it cannot be said with certainty at this stage that they will not undertake an investigation on the other aspects of the unnatural death, by registering an FIR.
The Mumbai Police in an affidavit in the Supreme Court had denied that the quarantine of IPS officer Vinay Tiwary was aimed at obstructing the investigation by the Bihar Police in the case registered by Sushant’s father in Patna. Clarifying the quarantine of the Bihar Police officer, the Mumbai Police said, “In fact, such a step was taken by the Municipal Corporation for Greater Mumbai and not by police authorities.”
The SC underlined that uncertainty about the future contingency in Mumbai, the father of the deceased has filed the complaint at Patna, levelling serious allegations against Rhea Chakraborty following which, the FIR was registered and the Bihar Police started their investigation.
“The case is now taken over by the CBI at the request of the Bihar Government. The petitioner has no objection for investigation by the CBI but is sceptical about the bonafides of the steps taken by the Bihar Government and the Patna Police,” observed Justice Roy.
However, Justice Roy noted that the incidents referred to in the complaint do indicate that the Mumbai Police also possess the jurisdiction to undertake investigation. “Therefore, in the event of a case being registered also at Mumbai, the consent for the investigation by the CBI under Section 6 of the DSPE Act can be competently given by Maharashtra Government”, noted the top court.
Thursday, 20 August 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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