The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI )’s ongoing investigation into the case against actress Rhea Chakraborty and her family for alleged facilitating the suicide of Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput is lawful, so federal agencies can proceed his investigation and refusal by Chakraborty to refer the case to Maharashtra police.
A bank single judge, Hrishikesh Roy, relied on powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to argue that a fair, competent and impartial investigation is necessary amid competing allegations and sharp allegations of political interference by the governments of Maharashtra and Bihar.
“In such a situation there is a reasonable fear that the truth will be a victim and that justice will be a victim. In order to ensure the public’s confidence in the investigation and to fully respect it in the matter, this Tribunal deems it appropriate to invoke the powers conferred on Article 142 of the Constitution. The ongoing investigation by the CBI is considered legitimate, ”the court said.
Article 142 empowers the Supreme Court to give orders to full justice in cases before it.
Rajput was found dead at his home in Mumbai on June 14. Police said it was apparently an open suicide case. The autopsy report ruled out any foul play. Political controversy over the death broke out after a two-week hiatus when a team from Bihar police investigated the case following a complaint from the actor’s family who claimed it had received no cooperation from his counterpart in Mumbai.
The legal turf war spread through the legal community as the Supreme Court was approached to determine whether CBI could investigate the matter. The issue became deeply heated and controversial on several levels – between the Rajput and Chakraborty families, between the actors’ respective fans, between the governments of the two states in question, and between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its former ally Shiv Sena – and left the entertainment industry split vertically.
The case opened a heated debate in and about the industry and led to a war of words and accusations between two camps composed largely of “insiders” (with generational ties to Bollywood) and “outsiders” (first generation actors and filmmakers) . .
Chakraborty and her supporters said the Bihar government attempted to hijack the emotional issue for political capital ahead of the upcoming state assembly elections.
Chakraborty’s attorney Satish Maneshinde said in a statement to the media following Wednesday’s ruling that the court referred to the fact that his client was calling for a CBI investigation. Chakraborty had stated in her written arguments before the Supreme Court that she was not opposed to a CBI investigation if it was ordered by the Supreme Court and not by the government of Bihar.
“The Supreme Court, after examining the facts and circumstances of the case and Mumbai Police report, determined that this would be the justice desired as Rhea himself called for a CBI investigation. It was also determined that based on allegations by the two states [Bihar and Maharashtra] of interfering politically, it would be in the interests of justice to refer the case to the CBI, ”said Maneshinde.
He said Chakraborty will work with the CBI investigation, as it did with the Mumbai police and enforcement agency. “Rhea claims the truth will stay the same regardless of which agency is investigating the case,” said Maneshinde.
Bihar’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, described Wednesday’s verdict as a “victory of justice”. State Police President Gupteshwar Pandey expressed satisfaction with the order and sparked controversy when he made derogatory reference to Chakraborty while speaking to the media.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad spoke about the matter and tweeted, “Justice Triumphs! The soul of the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput will now surely rest in peace with the assurance of a fair investigation of the FIR in Patna by the Bihar Police, their request to refer the case to CBI from the Supreme Court