A brief write up on CBI enquiry in Sushant Singh Rajput case by our experts.
Currently the Indian media is filled with the news related to CBI enquiry in Sushant Singh Rajput case and various legal aspects related to the same are being reported widely. We will try to examine the legal issues involved with the demand of CBI enquiry in Sushant Singh Rajput case. The facts related to CBI enquiry in Sushant Singh Rajput case are mainly centered around the issue of territorial jurisdiction in a criminal case which is generally considered as the place where the crime took place. We will examine various provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure which regulate the process of conducting the investigation by police outside the territorial jurisdiction and the powers of the court beyond its territorial jurisdiction.
The factum suicide by Sushant Singh Rajput is now being seen as his murder after several aspects of the matter are reported by the media. Mumbai Police has commenced the investigation in the matter as the suicide was reported within its jurisdiction. Now a FIR has been registered at Patna, Bihar and investigation taken up by Bihar Police on the complaint filed by the father of Sushant Singh Rajput. With this, the events have taken a new turn and demand for CBI enquiry in Sushant Singh Rajput case is being made to avoid the conflict of the working of the police of two states of Bihar and Maharashtra. The events in this regard have further taken very interesting turn after the refusal by the Maharashtra police to share the details of the investigation conducted previously in the case.
We can understand the provisions related to the Criminal Procedure Code of India regarding the jurisdiction issue in such cases.
Chapter XIII of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the jurisdiction of the criminal courts in inquiries and trials.
Section 177 provides for ordinary place of enquiry and trial. It has been contemplated that every offense shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed.
Section 178 provides for place of inquiry or trial in relation to the offenses when it is uncertain in which of several local areas an offense was committed, or where an offense is committed partly in one local area and partly in another, or where an offense is a continuing one and continues to be committed in more local areas than one, or where it consists of several acts done in different local areas. It has been provided that in all such cases the offense may be inquired into or tried by a Court having territorial jurisdiction over any of such local areas.
Section 179 makes it clear that if anything happened as a consequence of the offence, the same may be inquired into or tried by a Court within whose local jurisdiction such thing has been done or such consequence has ensued.
From the provisions as contained in Sections 178 to 179 Cr.P.C. it is clear that the normal rule is that the offence shall ordinarily be inquired into and tried by a court within whose local jurisdiction it was committed. However, when it is uncertain in which of the several local areas an offence was committed or where an offence is committed partly in one local area and partly in another or where an offence is a continuing one, and continues to be committed in more than one local area and takes place in different local areas as per Section 178, the Court having jurisdiction over any of such local areas is competent to inquire into and try the offence.
Under law, the absence of territorial jurisdiction does not prevent the Police from recording information about the cognizable offence and forwarding the same to the police station having jurisdiction over the area in which the crime was said to have been committed. In the present case, since a FIR has been registered at Patna, the police has Patna has undertaken the investigation. The law further contemplates that the power of the police is wide enough to arrest any suspect without warrant and then produce him before the court. If the person has been arrested by the police within the area of commission of crime, he would be presented before the court within 24 hours of his arrest. If the person has been arrested beyond the territorial area of the place of occurrence of the crime, he can be produced before the magistrate of that area and transit remand can be sought. The rationale behind all such arrangements is to ensure the presence of the accused person before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
The police is also empowered to conduct seizure even in any part of the country under Section 78 of the CrPC . Police is further empowered to arrest any person in any part of the country under Section 78 of CrPC as there are provisions to issue warrant under the said section. The courts can direct the police officer of another police station falling beyond its jurisdiction to arrest some one. The police has powers to seize property even in the area beyond its territorial jurisdiction under Section 102 of the CrPC. The provisions of law under the entire scheme of arrangement of the Code of Criminal Procedure in this regard are sweeping and wide enough to grant full powers to police to deal with the crime not only within the territory of its police station but also outside the territory in connection with the crime committed in its jurisdiction.
In the present case Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide at his flat at Mumbai. So far as the jurisdiction of the crime whether it is suicide or murder falls within the jurisdiction of the Mumbai police and the courts of Mumbai enjoy the territorial jurisdiction to try the case in terms of the provisions of Section 178 of the CrPC. As reported in media, other aspects of conspiracy behind his murder or abetment of suicide have surfaced hence the exclusive jurisdiction of the Mumbai police would be diluted and the police from other states can also investigate and take action in the matter if it is noticed that the persons behind the same are operating from other areas or were located at areas outside the jurisdiction of Mumbai police.
As the turn of events have taken place, after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput, the owner of his bank account shall be his father as the proceeds of his bank account and all his other assets and valuables are inherited by his family and become the property of his family. Since the family of Sushant Singh Rajput is located at Patna, and if they notice any criminal activity and then choose to lodge a complaint with the police at Patna regarding the theft, misappropriation of the aforesaid goods or the murder of Sushant Singh Rajput for grabbing the aforesaid valuables, then Patna police has the power and authority to register the FIR and investigate the matter. The courts at Patna have the jurisdiction to try the said case and to issue warrant of arrest, direction for producing the evidence, documents etc at Patna court. As reported in media, the transfer from the account of Sushant Singh Rajput has been effected online after his death thus gives a clear jurisdiction to the Patna police to take action as the owner of the said account after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput is his father who is based at Patna. His valuable security is stolen, so he has every right to lodge a FIR at Patna and the Patna police as well as courts at Patna would derive the jurisdiction over the matter fully. Needless to state that if the transfer of money from his account has been done after his death, it is not only criminal misappropriation but also impersonation and hacking of his account as the password of the account after his death becomes only a code and no one has a right to use the same.
A careful reading of the provisions of CrPC and various judgements by courts show that the police has powers to investigate the matter in any part of the country and even abroad. The police has powers to collect evidence, arrest any one in other states as well. Even the courts have powers to issue arrest warrants outside their territorial jurisdiction.
In the present case of Sushant Singh Rajput, the FIR registered at Patna on the complaint of the family of Sushant Singh Rajput is thus valid and competent. Patna police is fully empowered and authorized to take up the investigation in the matter in any part of the country or to detain or arrest any suspect in any part of the country or to recover any valuables from any part of the country. The provisions of Section 179 of Code of Criminal Procedure contemplates so. The case related to his suicide as reported to Mumbai Police can be investigated by Mumbai Police but the allegations of murder, abetment of suicide or criminal misappropriation of his money, cheating, forgery, hacking happened in consequence or independently can be very well enquired by the Patna Police.
Since the matter is now taken before Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court of India has the power and authority to transfer any criminal case under the provisions of Section 406 of Code of Criminal Procedure. Now the Supreme Court will decide this issue but on the face of it the registration of FIR and investigation by Patna police is valid. As the Supreme Court mainly delves on equity and administration of justice, the FIR at Patna may be transferred to Mumbai by it to keep a coordination of the investigation. More likely, the Supreme Court may now assign the matter to CBI under exercise of its powers, which is being demanded by many.
Now looking at the constitution and CBI and its powers, we find that CBI traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) which was set up in 1941 by the then British Government to investigate cases of bribery and corruption in transactions in the War & Supply Department of India during World War II. Subsequently, The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) was enacted in 1946 for the investigation of the cases related to all government offices and UTs. In 1963 central government passed a resolution dated 1/4/1963 and named it as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and all central government offices, PSUs, as well as nationalized banks, were subsequently brought within the ambit of investigations of CBI. Through time, CBI became the national investigative agency taking up various cases of corruption, irregularities in central government offices on a selected basis and through time and acquired a special status and importance by the nature of cases it handled.
Looking at the matter of Sushant Singh Rajput, since the crime as reported is complex as it is not a simple case of suicide as was reported earlier in the media. Now traces of huge amount of money and transfer of the amount from his account to various unknown accounts has been tracked and even the ED has booked its case, it more likely that CBI being a specialized agency can be assigned the case by Supreme Court looking at the complexities of the matter.
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