New Delhi: Six weeks on, the mystery surrounding the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput continues to take new turns everyday, with the matter now having reached the Supreme Court as well.
Rajput, aged 34, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his apartment in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on 14 June.
While the Mumbai Police is looking into the case, the Bihar Police has also stepped in now after a complaint was filed by Rajput’s father in Patna. But does the Bihar Police have the jurisdiction to do so?
Procedures the Mumbai Police is following
The Mumbai Police is inquiring into Rajput’s death under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which lays down the procedure for investigation when someone dies due to suicide.
Section 174 says that when the officer in-charge of a police station receives information that a person has died because of suicide or under other circumstances “raising a reasonable suspicion that some other person has committed an offence”, the officer should immediately inform the nearest executive magistrate empowered to hold inquests.
The executive magistrate is then required to go to the place where the body of the person is found and investigate the presence of two or more “respectable inhabitants of the neighbourhood”. The executive magistrate has to prepare a report on the apparent cause of death and on the wounds, injuries, etc., found on the body.
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If there is any doubt regarding the cause of death, the police can send the body to a civil surgeon for examination.
Bihar Police act on father’s complaint
The Bihar Police are following up on a complaint by Rajput’s father, Krishna Kishore Singh, had filed. Singh had lodged a case against actor Rhea Chakraborty and her family under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code. These included sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 306 (abetment of suicide).
On why the case was filed in Patna when Rajput died in Mumbai, Singh’s family lawyer, senior advocate Vikas Singh explained that “a part of the cause of action has arisen in Patna”.
“These are not those traditional crimes which happen over a day. These are crimes which happen over a period of time … The mind control started happening first by blocking Sushant’s father to talk to Sushant, and Rhea ensured that Sushant cannot contact him. That was the first step in the crime … The only victim here is the father who is living in Patna,” he was quoted as saying.
Delhi-based criminal lawyer Ajay Verma also explained that the proceedings under section 174 CrPC have a “very limited scope”.
“The Mumbai Police is required to submit a report under section 174 to the district magistrate or sub-divisional magistrate. It could have started investigation if … it was found that an offence has been committed,” he told ThePrint.
Explaining the Bihar Police’s powers, he added, “Bihar Police is within its right to investigate fraud, abetment of suicide etc. There is no bar under the Criminal Procedure Code for such independent investigation into the allegation as stipulated in Rajput’s father’s complaint. If, after the investigation, no material comes up, then the Bihar Police may file a closure report under section 173 CrPC. The Bihar Police can also summon anybody for the ongoing investigation.”
Rhea Chakraborty seeks transfer of probe
Actor Rhea Chakraborty, who is believed to have been in a relationship with Rajput, has approached the Supreme Court, seeking a transfer of the Patna FIR to Mumbai.
This case will be heard on 5 August.
Meanwhile, the governments of Bihar and Maharashtra and Rajput’s father have already filed caveats in the Supreme Court seeking to be heard before any order is passed on Chakraborty’s plea.
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