The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government received a major setback on Wednesday as the Supreme Court allowed the CBI to probe the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. The state government had been strongly opposing such a transfer, questioning its jurisdiction. Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Transport Minister Anil Parab and other MVA leaders, including Sena MP Arvind Sawant, had objected to the CBI inquiry saying Mumbai Police was up to the task. Welcoming the SC order, Deshmukh observed that the court had not faulted the investigation by Mumbai Police.
There is stunned silence in the Sena after the apex court order and it stands isolated, as allies NCP and Congress wait and watch what line the Thackerays take.
The mood in the opposing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, is triumphant, as it was quite vocal from the beginning, demanding a CBI probe in the matter. It has been alleging foul play in the probe currently being undertaken by Mumbai Police, saying a leader is being protected.
BJP legislator Ashish Shelar, in a scathing tweet said, ''Hidden hands misleading police investigation will be exposed. Jail time for Pub and Party gang who enjoyed illegally while 15,000-plus Mumbaikars died in lockdown.''
The BJP will make every effort to politically corner Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and Minister of Tourism Aaditya Thackeray, in the run-up to the Bihar assembly elections, now being armed with a missile to unleash on the Thackerays and thereby regain the sympathy of north Indians, especially those from Bihar, ahead of assembly elections.
A BJP legislator, who did not want to be identified, told The Free Press Journal, ''Since the beginning, the party has exposed the Shiv Sena's agenda to save somebody in the SSR case. A CBI probe was necessary and it will help to reveal the truth. Besides, the BJP has not forgotten the manner in which Thackeray ditched the alliance and joined hands with the NCP and the Congress to gain power after assembly elections held last year. Thackeray has used every opportunity to humiliate the BJP since he assumed the office in November last year. The BJP will obviously step up efforts to corner Thackeray and his son in connection with the SSR case.''
BJP legislators Atul Bhatkhalkar and Amit Satam were among those who had allegedly pointed fingers at Aaditya in the matter. This was immediately refuted by the Shiv Sena and its leaders, including Anil Parab and Arvind Sawant.
Incidentally, the BJP's move to target the Thackerays and the MVA government coincides with the party's move to assign a key role to former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the ensuing Bihar assembly election. As reported by The Free Press Journal, Fadnavis is likely to be appointed the assembly election management chief.
Earlier, the state government had, in its affidavit filed on August 9 in the apex court, submitted that the jurisdiction of the CBI was confined to the Union Territories for investigation of offences notified under section 3 of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946. "The CBI cannot move without the consent of the state government. It derives jurisdiction only when valid consent thereof is given, law and order being a state subject,’’ the state government had said.
‘‘It is only the state of Maharashtra which is competent to give consent under section 6 of the DSPE Act for transferring investigation to the CBI because the cause of action has arisen solely and completely within the state of Maharashtra alone,’’ it had added.
Further, the state government had also argued that the action of Bihar Police in not transferring the FIR in the Sushant Singh Rajput death and continuing with their simultaneous inquiry into the offences alleged in the FIR was totally mala fide and violated the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution. An investigation by two different state police into the same incident, which has occurred within one state will lead to a ‘‘chaotic situation’’, as the investigation of police from one state may interfere with that by another. The registration of the FIR in Bihar was politically motivated and due to extraneous reasons, the state government had held.
Further, the Maharashtra government had said the Bihar government had no legal sanctity to recommend the transfer of the investigation in the said FIR to the CBI. The FIR ought to be transferred as a Zero FIR to Bandra police station, it said. It had further submitted that a fair, proper, professional and impartial investigation had been and would be conducted by Mumbai Police in this case.