Sushant Death Case: Will ‘Drug Arrests’ Impact CBI Probe?
The case based on drug peddlers and WhatsApp chats may not stand in absence of actual possession.
Two-and-a-half months after actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s sad demise, the cause of his death is still unclear. Three parallel streams of investigations continue under the aegis of the CBI, ED and the NCB. But the trajectory of probe has taken a new turn with the arrest of a few drug peddlers, actor Rhea Chakraborty’s brother Showik Chakraborty and Sushant Singh Rajput’s house manager Samuel Miranda.
The presence of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) chief in Mumbai to direct operations is significant and if the signal is to clean up Bollywood from the drug menace, it is indeed a welcome step. Let us hope the campaign continues onwards to the sports arena and also to schools and colleges where the teenagers are being trapped by the drug cartels to peddle their wares in a pervasive manner.
If WhatsApp chats form the basis of probe for arresting the accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, where possession of drugs is a requirement, then it is expected that a number of Bollywood bigwigs may also fall in the NCB’s dragnet.
It is to be seen then, how long this drive is sustained to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.
Will NCB Arrests Have a Bearing on CBI Probe?
Meanwhile, the issue germane to unravelling the mystery of the death is whether the NCB arrests have a bearing on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation. The CBI has two tasks before itself – first to establish whether it is a case of suicide or murder. For this the agency has gone through the post-mortem and viscera reports, recreation of the alleged crime scene and dummy trials.
Secondly, it is looking into the abetment of suicide case filed by the Bihar Police. It is quite clear then that the NCB investigations are a part of a wider probe and not as focused as that of the CBI on the cause of death. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) of course is still pursuing its own case of alleged money and property transfers by Chakraborty and her family. Both the CBI and ED are yet to reach a conclusion.
The CBI is a highly professional agency and is digging deep. Over 30 hours of questioning of Chakraborty alone have taken place, not to talk of others close to Sushant Singh Rajput, to look into the sequence of incidents leading to his death.
Rightly so, since abetment to suicide is a difficult case to prove and the investigations so far too have apparently not led to any breakthrough. The trail of money being siphoned off from Rajput’s account and property build-up by Chakraborty and her family appear to have gone cold and so have the charges of criminal breach of trust, conspiracy, and illegal confinement.
Chakraborty left the house on 8 June, complaining to the doctor that Rajput had stopped taking medicines and needed to be spoken to. The sister administered medicines on a Delhi-based doctor’s advice and left on 12 June, leaving him presumably in a normal state.
Under the circumstances, arrest of Chakraborty’s brother does not impact the CBI’s probe, but merely brings another set of information before the public. Already there is an information overload in this case, being freely paraded and discussed among the people. Here, whether or not Chakraborty and her brother took drugs might not be relevant.
In fact, the case based on drug peddlers and WhatsApp chats may not stand in absence of actual possession since the proof of transaction being completed is unavailable.
WhatsApp Chat, Medical Records Leak: The Seemingly Unending Case
Systematic leaking of WhatsApp chats and medical records is the most unfortunate fallout of this case. It, however, reveals the stigma associated with mental illness in India. Affected families ignore or wish it away without facing up to it and seeking psychiatric help. Irrespective of the probe result, there should be a national awakening over mental health and ways to address this problem. A number of top counsellors in the country have flagged this issue before the media, suggesting a whole set of measures in this regard.
Rajput’s case brings to light how poorly we fare in our democracy in resolving issues. It took the Supreme Court to decide which agency would probe the case.
The top brass of police from Bihar and Maharashtra fought the jurisdiction battle openly before the media with their political mentors joining the shrill campaign as if the states’ pride was at stake.
Had the Mumbai Police been a little sympathetic to the family of the deceased and coopted Bihar Police in the probe and the Bihar Police, in turn, listened to reason and transferred the FIR to Mumbai, the case might have been closer to be resolved.
Today, it is still awaiting a dignified closure. The unfortunate death of a brilliant, young actor called for a much more sober and mature response as a mark of respect to his prodigious talent and untold grief brought to his family.
(Yashovardhan Azad is former IPS officer and Central Information Commissioner. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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