Probe into actor Rajput's death clouded by allegations of politics: SC

Justice Hrishikesh Roy said that in such a situation, there is a reasonable apprehension of

The investigation into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has come under a cloud as governments in Maharashtra and Bihar are making "acrimonious allegations of political interference" against each other, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.

Observing that allegations of political interference against both the states have the "potential of discrediting" the investigation, the apex court said that accusing fingers are being pointed and people have taken the liberty to put out their "own conjectures and theories".

A bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy said that in such a situation, there is a reasonable apprehension of "truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim".

"In the instant case, political interference against both states is alleged which has the potential of discrediting the investigation.

"The legal process must therefore be focused upon revelation of the correct facts through credible and legally acceptable investigation. It must be determined whether the unnatural death was the result of some criminal acts," the bench said in its 35-page judgement.

The verdict came on a plea filed by actress Rhea Chakraborty who had sought transfer of an FIR, lodged against her and six others at Patna by Rajput's father accusing them of abetting the actor's suicide, to Mumbai.

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 top court noted that while Rajput's father and the Bihar government have alleged that Mumbai Police is attempting to shield the real culprits under political pressure, the Maharashtra government has strongly refuted it saying Patna Police has no jurisdiction to investigate the crime as the incident has taken place in Mumbai.

Chakraborty's counsel had claimed in the court that FIR was registered at Patna against her only "because of political pressure" brought upon the Bihar Police authorities.

The counsel appearing for Maharashtra had referred to media reports and alleged that FIR was lodged at Patna due to political pressure.

In the verdict, Justice Roy said that in order to lend credibility to the investigation and its conclusion, it would be desirable to specify the authority which should conduct probe into this matter.

"As noted earlier, as because both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud," the bench said.

Referring to the conjectures and theories, the bench said: "Such comments, responsible or otherwise, have led to speculative public discourse which have hogged media limelight.

"These developments unfortunately have the propensity to delay and misdirect the investigation. In such situation, there is reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim".

The bench dealt with four "core issues" which came up for its consideration in the matter.

It noted the core issues, which included whether the court has the power to transfer investigation, not case or appeal, under section 406 of the CrPC and whether proceeding under section 174 of CrPC conducted by Mumbai Police to inquire into the unnatural death, can be termed as an investigation.

One of the issues were -- 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 and as a corollary, what is the status of investigation by CBI on the consent given by Bihar government.

The bench also dealt with the issue of scope of the power of a single judge exercising jurisdiction under section 406 of the CrPC and whether the court can issue direction for doing complete justice, in exercise of plenary power.

The top court accorded its approval to the ongoing CBI probe into the FIR against Chakraborty and others and said that any other case lodged in the matter will be probed by the premier agency itself.

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