HC reserves order on Rhea Chakraborty’s plea challenging LOC | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC reserves order on Rhea Chakraborty’s plea challenging LOC

BySahyaja MS
Feb 09, 2024 06:58 AM IST

The Bombay High Court reserved its order on Rhea Chakraborty's plea to annul look-out circulars issued against her and her family by the CBI during the Sushant Singh Rajput case investigation. The court questioned the CBI's justification for the LOCs and expressed concern over the delay in filing a chargesheet.

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday reserved its order on the plea filed by actor Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik, and their father to annul a look-out circulars (LOC) issued against them. These LOCs were issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during investigation into the untimely demise of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

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While LOCs restrict individuals from traveling abroad without prior court approval, Chakraborty faced hindrances in fulfilling her overseas work commitments due to the same, prompting the plea. A high court bench had earlier granted temporary suspension of the LOC against her, allowing her to travel to Dubai for a meet-and-greet function.

During the hearing, the bench of justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Manjusha Deshpande questioned the CBI’s contention that mere registration of an FIR justified the issuance of LOCs. Jurisdiction was another key point of contention as the FIR was registered in Patna, based on a complaint by the family of Rajput, before the case was taken over by the CBI in Delhi. Advocates Abhinav Chandrachud and Prasanna Bhangale, representing Chakraborty, argued that Mumbai was the rightful jurisdiction for the case, emphasising that both Rajput and Chakraborty were residents of the city, and the CBI had conducted its investigations here.

Similarly, advocate Ayaz Khan, representing Showik Chakraborty and their father, reiterated Mumbai’s jurisdiction and emphasised that an LOC should only be issued if there is evidence of the accused actively avoiding arrest or court proceedings, which was not the case.

CBI representative advocate Shreeram Shirsat countered these arguments referring to a previous order that denied Rhea’s plea to transfer the case to Mumbai, citing it as a precedent in the jurisdictional debate.

The bench, however, highlighted a pending case since 2020 where the CBI has not filed a chargesheet, expressing concern over the delay.

“There has to be some finality in a case. This is not financial fraud that will take so much time. In one case we saw that there was an LOC issued for a witness who could not go abroad to earn his livelihood. If such is the case, then which witness will come forward? There has to be some discretion as well. What are you fearing if the LOC is quashed,” the court asked.

Shirsat acknowledged that the Chakrabortys’ had cooperated in the investigation but could not say when the charge sheet would be filed. He emphasised on the need for LOCs based on apprehension, saying, “Just because they are not being summoned does not mean that the investigation is not going on. The question over LOC is only about apprehension. The intention of the person cannot be ascertained until they flee.”

In response, the bench stressed the importance of timely legal proceedings, stating, “Three and a half years have passed, and the chargesheet should have seen the light of day.”

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