New Delhi/Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday filed a money laundering case against actor Rhea Chakraborty and her family on the basis of a Bihar Police FIR in which Sushant Singh Rajput’s father has accused them of abetting the Bollywood actor’s reported suicide.
Chakraborty, 28, released a brief video statement through her lawyers in which she said she had immense faith in god and the judiciary.
A Bihar Police team which is in Mumbai to investigate the FIR registered in Patna against Chakraborty, recorded the statement of Rajput’s former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande, in which she is reported to have spoken on his mental health, a police official said.
The 34-year-old actor, who was in a relationship with Chakraborty, died in Mumbai’s Bandra area on June 14.
The ED had called for the Bihar police’s First Information Report (FIR) registered on Tuesday and after studying it, the probe agency decided to slap charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), officials said.
They said an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) has been filed against the accused named in the FIR that includes Chakraborty, her family and six others.
Chakraborty and some others are expected to be called for questioning soon, officials said.
The ED is understood to have taken up the case after it analysed the contents of the FIR filed on the basis of the complaint by Rajput’s father and gathered some independent information about the late actor’s income, bank accounts and companies.
More such details and another FIR filed by the Mumbai Police to probe Rajput’s death will be part of the ED’s probe, according to the officials.
Rajput’s father Krishna Kumar Singh (74), who resides in Patna, has also alleged that Chakraborty was aided by her family members, including parents, and they all were looking to purloin the assets of his son, worth crores of rupees.
The father also said he wanted a police investigation to ascertain where the Rs 15 crore deposited in a bank account held by Rajput had been transferred.
Officials said the ED will probe allegations of mishandling and purported diversion of Rajput’s money and operation of his bank accounts.
The agency will probe if anyone used Rajput’s income and his companies for money laundering and creating illegal assets, they said.
The ED also has the powers to attach properties of the accused under the PMLA.
In her video statement released through her lawyers, Chakraborty said, “I have immense faith in god and the judiciary. I believe that I will get justice. Even though a lot of horrible things are being said about me on the electronic media, I refrain from commenting on the advice of my lawyers as the matter is sub-judice. Satyamev jayate, the truth shall prevail.
On July 16, Chakraborty had requested Union Home Minister Amit Shah to order a CBI inquiry to understand what “pressures” prompted Rajput to take the extreme step.
The Maharashtra government filed a caveat in the Supreme Court, seeking a hearing before any order is passed on Chakraborty’s plea in the death case. The Bihar government and Rajput’s father on Thursday had filed caveats in the apex court in the petition by Chakraborty in which she has sought transfer of the FIR against her from Patna to Mumbai.
Caveat is a pre-emptive legal measure taken to ensure that a party does not get any favourable order without a notice or a hearing accorded to the other side.
The Bihar government said it will oppose Chakraborty’s petition challenging the jurisdiction of the Patna Police in lodging an FIR in connection with the death case.
Advocate General Lalit Kishore said the state will be represented before the apex court by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
“While we have made no prayer for being included as a party to the case filed by Chakraborty, we will oppose her petition since she has challenged the jurisdiction of the state of Bihar,” Kishore said.
He asserted that the matter fell very much within the jurisdiction of the state as the FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint filed by Rajput’s father who resides in Patna.
He also scoffed at Chakraborty’s contention that all cases in the matter be shifted to Mumbai, and pointed out that the police in the western metropolis had not even lodged an FIR.
“It is the Patna Police which lodged the first FIR in the matter. I wonder how the Mumbai Police intends to investigate a matter without registering a proper case,” he said.
Political leaders chip in
The chorus for a probe by the CBI into Rajput’s death grew louder with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan saying only the central agency can do justice in the matter amid what he called a “tussle” between the Bihar and Mumbai police.
Minister Paswan told PTI that there was a “lack of progress” in the case so far. He noted that Mumbai Police has not registered an FIR yet in the case.
“Only a central agency like the CBI can do justice to the actor’s family. The case should be transferred to it without any delay,” he said.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar has also said he expects a free and fair probe into the death case to ensure that truth comes out.
With the issue of Rajput’s death gaining significance in poll-bound Bihar, senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav said people are together in getting his family justice.
“A spontaneous debate has begun in the society after the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput, who made a name in the cine world after coming out of Bihar. Many questions, including the evils of nepotism, have been emerging from the society. We are all together in bringing justice to Sushant’s family,” Yadav, a BJP national general secretary, said in a tweet in Hindi. Yadav is the BJP’s in-charge for Bihar affairs.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the ED should register an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in connection with the money laundering angle in the case.
There is a “huge public sentiment” about handing over the case to the CBI, but the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state has been reluctant to do so.
The demand for a CBI probe into the matter is being made by the people and not by the BJP, he added.
“Now a money laundering aspect too has come to the fore. It has been observed that money was siphoned off from his account. In such a case, the ED has a jurisdiction, so, I have demanded the ED should register an FIR and probe the matter,” he said.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh recently said the Mumbai Police is capable of handling the matter and that there was no need for a CBI probe.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers they can call to speak in confidence. You could also accompany them to the nearest hospital.