A Delhi-based lawyer has called for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput citing several lapses on part of the police as he pressed for the need to restore people’s confidence in the judicial system.
Ishkaran Singh Bhandari, who is leading “a people’s movement” for justice, said Sushant Singh Rajput’s death should be treated as one of “mysterious death” until facts are ascertained by CBI.
The 34-year-year-old actor was found dead in his Mumbai flat in June this year. Police have said he died by suicide.
Several people, including Rajput’s close friend Rhea Chakraborty, have called for a CBI inquiry into his death. Actor Shekhar Suman and Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy were also among those who have called for a CBI investigation.
However, Maharashtra’s home minister Anil Deshmukh has ruled out requests for a CBI probe in the case. Deshmukh has said that Mumbai Police ate capable of handling the case.
Bhandari said the word “suicide came in within minutes of his death and that became a defining narrative on the entire media.”
“The normal thing is to call it a mysterious death, investigate it and after you investigate it you may come to a conclusion that it’s a tragedy, it’s abetment to suicide, or it’s a foul murder,” he said.
“But how do you come to that conclusion in a few minutes? So that means you have a predetermined conclusion. That was something which started me off. After that the questions kept on piling up, the deeper I went into it,” he added.
The lawyer cited “lapses” on part of the police and other aspects that Rajput allegedly changed 50 SIM cards on his phone. He said he has written to the Mumbai Police, which is investigating the actor’s death, regarding these aspects.
“In the first letter, I said that there is source-based, not even source-based, name-based information that Sushant Singh Rajput changed his SIM cards 50 times. I wrote to them asking whether they had ceased all those SIM cards, the electronic evidence of all of them as well as the electronic evidence of people incidental and connected to him. That’s basic,” he said.
“That’s an extraordinarily high number and that is why I wrote that this evidence must be sealed. If Mumbai Police investigate it, hopefully, they would have already done it. If they have not done it, then that is raising more and more questions,” he said.
He said he also asked them whether they had sealed the flat and conducted forensic search citing “reports in reliable mainstream media” th at they did so after a day of Rajput’s death.
“That is very surprising and a very glaring lapse of a procedure because we all know evidence can get contaminated. In fact, they say even the family pets should not be there in the room after there is an occurrence because even a pet can contaminate a scene, leave alone humans. So, why was that basic thing not done and I wrote a letter to them saying at the end of the day justice is about public confidence. Law and order is also about public confidence,” he said.
Bhandari pointed out that nobody has come forward to say that the police followed procedures.
“Those statements are not coming and the judgements of the highest courts of this country, which is the Supreme Court, says that public confidence is an integral part of justice delivery system and also where influential people are involved,” he said.
Police have said they have recorded the statements of dozens of people, including his family, friends, co-stars and close aides, in the investigations ordered by the Maharashtra government into the actor’s death on June 14.
He also said the police took days to record statements of “prominent people” in connection with the case.
“So, anybody being questioned is by definition an influential person, is by definition a person with means and sources, is by definition a person close to all administrations. So, it has to go out of the local police to avoid any conflicts of interest and it has to a central agency,” he pointed out.
The lawyer pointed to “the old maxim of law that justice not only is done, but it should also be seen to be done”.
“So, this has to go to CBI. In this case, there are lapses also. I am saying even without lapses, this was a case which should have gone to CBI.”
“The Maharashtra government as a best practice will give it to a central agency. In case they do not, one may need to go to the court and because people demand satisfaction in this case and they must have the satisfaction that justice and transparent justice is being done.”