“In a matter like this, involving the unfortunate death of a very gifted and talented actor under circumstances which are unusual, it is to be investigated whether criminality is involved. When some high-profile person of the cinema world dies in such circumstances, everyone has an opinion. The court will go by what the law says. Let the Maharashtra government show details of the probe. Till the next hearing, we will expect everyone to have a hands-off approach,” Justice Hrishikesh Roy said.
While disapproving quarantining of a Bihar police officer by Maharashtra government as “not a good signal”, Justice Roy granted three days to all parties— Rajput’s father, Bihar government, Maharashtra government and Mumbai police—to place on record their stand on actor Rhea Chakraborty’s petition seeking transfer of the FIR lodged by Rajput’s father against her in Patna to Mumbai. It will hear the case again next week.
Before the Bihar government and Rajput’s father K K Singh sparred with the Maharashtra government over who should probe the actor’s death, solicitor general Tushar Mehta informed the SC that the Centre had accepted Bihar government’s proposal for a CBI probe and that a notification would be issued shortly.
Mehta said the in-principle decision to accept the recommendation was taken in view of demands for a CBI probe by Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, his father and the Bihar government. Chakraborty, who had tweeted to home minister Amit Shah demanding a CBI probe later moved the SC seeking transfer of the FIR to Mumbai.
Counsel for Rajput’s father, senior advocate Vikas Singh, said, “There is clear evidence of Rajput being beaten up mercilessly and strangled to death prior to stage-managing of the suicide. There must be a CBI probe as the Bihar police is being obstructed by Mumbai police from investigating the case,” he said.
For Maharashtra government, senior advocate R Basant asked, “Is there any cause of action for registration of FIR in Patna? Look at the consequences. It affects federalism. Rajput’s father has not said or given anything in writing to Mumbai police till date. Now, the case is being driven by politics. If at all Bihar police registered an FIR, it should have been transferred to Mumbai. Bihar cannot recommend CBI probe into a case over which it has no jurisdiction.”
Appearing for the Bihar government, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and the state’s standing counsel Keshav Mohan said, “It is strange that Maharashtra is talking of federalism. They quarantined a senior Bihar police officer when he reached Mumbai for investigation of the case. As the CBI has taken over the probe, this petition (by Chakraborty) has become infructuous.”
Justice Roy said Maharashtra police has to satisfy the court that it has done a professional job, but disapproved of the quarantining of a Bihar police officer. “The case has hogged so much media time. Quarantining a Bihar police officer does not send a good signal. When so many eyes are focussed on the case, are you sending the correct signal? Whatever the nature of the case Mumbai police has registered, you give details and ensure that it is done in a professional way,” he said.