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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sushant Singh Rajput death case: What we know so far

On Wednesday, August 19, the Supreme Court held that the FIR registered in Bihar's Patna in the Sushant Singh Rajput's death case was legitimate and ordered the CBI to investigate the case. Here's looking at what has happened in the case so far.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 19, 2020 8:26:57 pm
sushant singh rajput suicide probe, sushant singh rajput suicide, sushant singh rajput cbi case, mumbai city news, mumbai bmc quarantineThe CBI team, which includes forensic experts, landed at Mumbai airport around 7.30 pm, an official said, adding it will visit the actor’s Bandra residence, where he was found dead.

Two months after actor Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide, the Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the investigations into the case. The court also asked the Maharashtra Police to assist the probe and handover all the evidence collected in the case so far to the central investigating agency.

The top court also upheld the FIR registered in Patna by Sushant’s father K K Singh. The order came on actor Rhea Chakraborty’s plea seeking transfer of the FIR from Patna to Mumbai. Sushant’s family has alleged that Chakraborty had abetted the alleged suicide of the actor.

Here’s looking at what has happened in the case so far:

Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and investigation by Mumbai Police

Sushant Rajput was found dead at his apartment in Mumbai’s Bandra on June 14. The initial investigation done by the Mumbai Police revealed that prima facie it was a case of suicide. However, no suicide note was found. The provisional post mortem report revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging.

Sushant’s death came as a shock to the film industry, with many of his colleagues and friends in the industry mourning the loss of the budding artist. His death triggered a debate on the importance of mental health and depression but it was soon overshadowed by actor Kangana Ranaut’s accusations of nepotism prevelant in the film industry.

Over the course of next one month, the Mumbai Police recorded statements of Sushant’s aides, managerial staff, his psychiatrist, and directors and film personalities, including Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Aditya Chopra, Shekhar Kapur, Karan Johar and Rhea Chakraborty. In her statement, Chakraborty had claimed that Rajput was upset over the nature of his contract with a leading film production house.

On July 23, she had sought a CBI probe into his death. Tagging Union Home Minister Amit Shah, she had tweeted: “Respected @AmitShah sir, I’m Sushant Singh Rajput’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, it is now over a month since his sudden demise. I have complete faith in the government. However, in the interest of justice, I request you with folded hands to initiate a CBI enquiry into this matter. I only want to understand what pressures prompted Sushant to take this step.”

FIR against Rhea Chakraborty, case lands in Supreme Court

However, five days later, an FIR was registered in Patna against Rhea Chakraborty and five others, including three of her family members, for abetment of suicide, on the complaint of Sushant’s father Krishna Kishor Singh. Besides Chakraborty, the others named in the FIR are three of her relatives — Indrajit Chakraborty, Sandhya Chakraborty and Shobhik Chakraborty, and two others – Samuel Miranda and Shruti Modi.

“My son was at the peak of his acting career till May 2019. During that period, Rhea and her relatives developed an acquaintance with my son, under a deliberate conspiracy, so that Rhea could establish herself in the film industry and with an eye on Sushant’s wealth… He was later made to rent a house that was haunted, and that had an impact on my son,” K K Singh, said in the FIR.

The FIR was filed under IPC Sections 306 (abetment of suicide), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful confinement), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating).

sushant singh rajput suicide probe, rhea chakraborty, sushant singh rajput money laundering, ed rhea chakraborty, rhea chakraborty money laundering Actor Sushant Singh Rajput with Rhea Chakraborty.

A day after the FIR was registered, a four member team of Bihar Police left for Mumbai on July 29. The same day, Chakraborty moved the Supreme Court, seeking to transfer the Patna FIR to Mumbai, claiming Bihar did not have jurisdiction in the matter. Sushant’s family and Maharashtra government filed caveats in the the top court on Chakraborty’s petition.

Mumbai Police vs Bihar Police

On August 2, Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey said IPS officer Vinay Tiwari had been sent to Mumbai to monitor the Patna Police investigation. He also claimed that the Mumbai Police did not handed over postmortem and forensic reports to Patna Police.

Mumbai police, Vinay Tiwari, sushant singh Rajput, Mumbai news, Indian express news IPS officer Vinay Tiwari after arriving in Mumbai. (PTI)

On August 3, the investigation turned into a bitter battle between Mumbai and Bihar police after Tiwari alleged that he was “selectively quarantined” till August 15 after his arrival in Mumbai. “I did point out that I am a police officer on duty and there are exceptions to the quarantine rules. Four other members of my team have been in Mumbai since July 27. They have been out in the field every day… No one from the BMC approached them… I have been selectively home-quarantined,” he said.

Also read from Explained: Can two police forces investigate the same case?

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the treatment meted out to Tiwari was “not proper” as he went there to do his duty. Bihar DGP said a team had examined the quarantine guidelines of Maharashtra government and asserted that the quarantine was not needed. In reply, the BMC said Tiwari was quarantined as per the rules for domestic air travellers.

ED starts probe against Rhea, family

On July 31, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) based on FIR filed on a complaint by K K Singh in Patna, accusing Rhea and her family members of cheating and siphoning funds of about Rs 15 crore from Sushant’s bank accounts.

On August 7, the ED questioned Rhea for about eight hours pertaining to the investment made by her and her family in the two companies floated by Rajput. The agency also quizzed her brother Showik. Both Rhea and Showik are directors in two firms floated by Rajput — Front India For World Foundation and Vividrage Rhealityx Private Limited.

Rhea Chakraborty arrives at the ED office in Mumbai. (Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

Rhea was also quizzed about her properties in Mumbai and was asked to submit papers pertaining to the purchase of these assets. Sources said Rhea had denied siphoning funds from Rajput’s accounts.

However, a week later, the ED contended that it had not found any “substantial direct transfers” from the late actor’s account to Chakraborty or her family members, sources familiar with the case told The Indian Express. These withdrawals amount to Rs 55 lakh and were from Rajput’s primary account with Kotak Bank.

Sources said the agency is tracking the trail of these withdrawals. His account had about Rs 15 crore at the beginning of the last financial year and was used to make tax and travel-related payments, among other things, sources said. The agency found that Rhea Chakraborty was not a joint account holder in any of Rajput’s bank accounts.

The ED also questioned Rajput’s chartered accountant Sandeep Sridhar and his house manager Samuel Miranda, who is said to have been hired by Rhea. The agency also summoned her CA Ritesh Shah.

Fight moves to Supreme Court

On August 3, BJP MLA Niraj Kumar Singh raised the issue of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in Bihar Legislative Assembly and demanded a CBI probe. His demand was supported by Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Chirag Paswan and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav. The very next day, the Bihar government recommended a CBI inquiry in the case, which was accepted by the Centre.

The Supreme Court took up Chakraborty’s petition for transfer of the case on August 5 and made the Centre, Bihar and Maharashtra governments, and Mumbai Police parties to the case. The top court asked all parties to file their affidavits, saying “whether there is any criminality in the situation is the matter to be investigated”.

Another PIL was filed in the top court demanding a court-monitored CBI probe into the death of Disha Salian, Sushant’s former manager, claiming that both cases were inter-linked.

In its affidavit, the Bihar government sought dismissal of Chakraborty’s plea, stating that it was “premature, misconceived and non-maintainable”. The affidavit said in criminal proceedings, the concept of jurisdiction cannot be applied like civil cases. In the affidavit, police also said that Rajput’s father had claimed in his FIR that Chakraborty had met his son in 2019 with the sole intention to “grab crores of rupees”.

The police also said that the “forcible quarantine” of Bihar IPS officer Vinay Tiwari in Mumbai “casts a serious aspersion on the role of Mumbai Police who is apparently siding with” Chakraborty “for the reasons best known to them.”

In its affidavit, the Mumbai Police stated that the CBI was acting in an “indecent haste” in taking over the probe into Rajput’s death. Mumbai Police also said that Sushant’s father had not requested them at any point of time to register an FIR despite knowing that they were probing the case.

The affidavit contended that the statements of all the close relatives of the deceased, including his father, recorded “as soon as possible after the said death” demonstrate that none of them had any suspicion about the suicide committed by the deceased or against anybody whosoever in that regard”.

In his affidavit, Rajput’s father K K Singh alleged that the Maharashtra police investigation into his son’s death was an “eyewash” and the authorities were “trying to shield” Rhea Chakraborty, against whom the family has raised suspicions.

Singh said it “is rather unfortunate” that Maharashtra “has undermined the feelings of a father who lives in Patna and who has sufficient proof and belief that it is due to the petitioner’s continued criminal actions for over a period of one year that has caused the death of his only son”.

Rhea alleges ‘state interference’

On August 10, Rhea Chakraborty submitted before the Supreme Court that Bihar Police had no jurisdiction in Sushant’s death case, and had usurped it “under political pressure”. She also called Bihar Police’s move to seek a CBI probe in the matter “illegal and bad in law”.

She contended that the reason Bihar Police sought a probe by CBI is “known”: “as the ruling party in Bihar and Centre is the same and the said party is in minority in the state of Maharashtra”.

She stated that Rajput came from Bihar, and his death is being used ahead of the elections in the state. She claimed that the Bihar CM is “reported to be responsible for registration of the FIR in Patna”.

Rhea Chakraborty Sushant Singh Rajput photo On August 10, Rhea Chakraborty submitted before the Supreme Court that Bihar Police had no jurisdiction in Sushant’s death case, and had usurped it “under political pressure”. (Photo: Rhea Chakraborty/Instagram)

On August 13, the Centre filed its affidavit in the case, stating that statements of witnesses said to have been recorded by Mumbai Police have “no validity or legal sanctity”, as the state is yet to file an FIR in the matter.

The state also stated it is “apparent” that due to “political pressure” in Maharashtra, neither was an FIR registered by Mumbai Police nor did the local police extend “any cooperation” to Bihar Police.

On August 13, the CBI filed its submission in the apex court, urging it to allow continuation of the investigation in the death case.

Chakraborty filed a fresh statement in the apex court, saying that the financial transactions of the actor were “crystal clear and there was nothing incriminating against her”. She also alleged that Sushant’s sister Priyanka once “groped” her while being drunk.

On the alleged involvement of Aaditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra minister, in the case, Rhea said she did not know him personally and has never met him.

Finally on August 19, the Supreme Court held that the FIR registered in Patna was legitimate and ordered the CBI to investigate the case. It also said that the Bihar government was competent to recommend transferring the case to the CBI.

How politicians reacted

Leaders cutting across party lines in Bihar welcomed the Supreme Court order for a CBI probe. Hailing the court’s verdict, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said it vindicated Bihar government’s lawful action which had nothing to do with politics or elections. “With today’s apex court order, it has become amply clear that whatever was done in Bihar was in accordance with the law and Constitutional norms.

“The order makes it clear that whatever steps we took (in the pursuit of justice) were correct. And I am quite hopeful that justice will now be done in the case,” PTI quoted him as saying.

He rubbished allegations that the state government’s action was guided by the upcoming polls saying, “I do not take notice of such things as it has nothing to do with politics or elections, rather it is purely related to law and nothing else”.

Nyay ki jeet hui hain (truth has triumphed),” Kumar said and expressed hope that justice would be ensured in the case and proper investigation will be carried out by the CBI at the earliest.

Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, while welcoming the order, said this was the victory for justice, Rajput’s family and his millions of fans, and the “Bihar government can in no way take credit for it (verdict)”. “The state government came out of its “deep slumber” after 40 days when his party vociferously took up the matter for a CBI probe,” Yadav said in a tweet.

LJP chief Chirag Paswan thanked the apex court for keeping the sentiments of crores of people by ordering CBI probe into the 34-year-old actor’s death case. “Now, we hope that CBI probe will bring the truth and we will also be able to know the names of those who tried to divert and deflect the investigation,” Paswan said in a video message.

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