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Rhea Chakraborty Vs. State of Bihar and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (19 Aug 2020)

Transfer of investigation must be done in rare and exceptional cases in order to do complete justice between the parties and to instil straight confidence in the public mind

MANU/SC/0597/2020

Criminal

Present Transfer Petition is filed Under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) read with Order XXXIX of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 with prayer for transfer of the FIR registered under Sections 341, 342, 380, 406, 420, 306, 506 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) registered at Patna and all consequential proceedings, from the jurisdiction of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Patna to the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Bandra Mumbai. The matter relates to the unnatural death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput, at his Bandra residence at Mumbai.

The Petitioner is a friend of the deceased and claims that she has been falsely implicated in the Patna FIR, filed by Respondent No. 2- the father of the deceased actor. The Petitioner and the deceased were in a live-in relationship but a few days prior to the death of the actor, she had shifted to her own residence at Mumbai. According to the Petitioner, the Mumbai Police is competent to undertake the investigation, even for the FIR lodged at Patna.

Section 406 of CrPC empowers the Supreme Court to transfer cases and appeals. The precedents suggest that, transfer plea under Section 406 of CrPC were granted in cases where the Court believed that the trial may be prejudiced and fair and impartial proceedings cannot be carried on, if the trial continues. However, transfer of investigation on the other hand was negated by this Court in the case of Ram Chander Singh Sagar and Anr. vs. State of Tamil Nadu. It is held that, the CrPC clothes this Court with power under Section 406 of CrPC to transfer a case or appeal from one High Court or a Court subordinate to one High Court to another High Court or to a Court subordinate thereto. But, it does not clothe this Court with the power to transfer investigations from one police station to another in the country simply because the first information or a remand report is for warded to a Court.

In view of the contour of the power under Section 406 of CrPC, it must be concluded that only cases and appeals (not investigation) can be transferred. The ratio in Ram Chander Singh Sagar and Anr. vs. State of Tamil Nadu is clearly applicable in the present matter.

The Patna police committed no illegality in registering the Complaint. Looking at the nature of the allegations in the Complaint which also relate to misappropriation and breach of trust, the exercise of jurisdiction by the Bihar Police appears to be in order. At the stage of investigation, they were not required to transfer the FIR to Mumbai police. For the same reason, the Bihar government was competent to give consent for entrustment of investigation to the CBI and as such the ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful.

The conflict between the two State governments on, who amongst the two is competent to investigate the case, is apparent here. In K.V. Rajendran v. Superintendent of Police, CBCID, Chennai and Ors., it is held that, transfer of investigation must be in rare and exceptional cases in order to do complete justice between the parties and to instil straight confidence in the public mind. The credibility of the investigation and the investigating authority must be protected.

The Supreme Court in a deserving case, can invoke Article 142 of the Constitution of India, 1950 powers to render justice. The actor Sushant Singh Rajput was a talented actor in the Mumbai film world and died well before his full potential could be realised. His family, friends and admirers are keenly waiting the outcome of the investigation so that all the speculations floating around can be put to rest. Therefore a fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour. The expected outcome then would be, a measure of justice for the Complainant, who lost his only son.

To ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter, present Court considers it appropriate to invoke the powers conferred by Article 142 of the Constitution. As a Court exercising lawful jurisdiction for the assigned roster, no impediment is seen for exercise of plenary power in the present matter. Therefore, while according approval for the ongoing CBI investigation, if any other case is registered on the death of the actor and the surrounding circumstances of his unnatural death, the CBI is directed to investigate the new case as well. The Transfer Petition is disposed of.

Relevant : Ram Chander Singh Sagar and Anr. vs. State of Tamil Nadu Ors. MANU/SC/0078/1978, K.V. Rajendran v. Superintendent of Police, CBCID, Chennai and Ors. MANU/SC/0842/2013

Tags : INVESTIGATION   TRANSFER   ENTITLEMENT  

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