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Bombay HC cancels CBI’s lookout circular against Rhea Chakraborty, family

BySahyaja MS
Feb 22, 2024 04:01 PM IST

The Bombay high court allowed petitions filed by Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and their father Lt Col Indrajit Chakraborty (retd)

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Thursday cancelled the lookout circular (LOC) issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against actor Rhea Chakraborty and two family members in 2020 in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

Actor Rhea Chakraborty (HT FILE PHOTO)

A bench of justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande allowed petitions filed by Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and their father Lt Col Indrajit Chakraborty (retd) against the LOCs issued against them that prevented them from travelling abroad.

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A LoC issued by an investigating agency can request the Bureau of Immigration to detain a person, stop the person from boarding a plane or simply inform the agency concerned about the person’s exit from the country.

The lookout circular was lifted by Thursday’s order, weeks after it was suspended by a vacation bench in December to let Rhea Chakraborty travel to Dubai for a meet-and-greet event, despite CBI’s strong opposition.

As the bench indicated its decision on Thursday, CBI advocate Shreeram Shirsat requested the bench to stay its order for four weeks to enable the investigating agency to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

At previous hearings, the bench had questioned the rationale of issuing LOCs because there was a first information report (FIR) against the actor. based solely on the registration of an FIR. The issue of jurisdiction also sparked debate, as the FIR was initially filed in Patna by Rajput’s family before the case was taken over by the CBI in Delhi. Advocates representing Chakraborty argued for Mumbai’s jurisdiction, highlighting the residency of both parties and the location of the investigations.

The bench raised concerns over a pending case since 2020 where the CBI had not filed a charge sheet, emphasizing the need for finality in legal proceedings. The court also questioned the rationale for issuing LOCs,

Lawyers for the Chakraborty family reasoned that the LOC should have been issued only if there was concrete evidence that the accused was actively avoiding arrest or court proceedings.

In this case, the CBI lawyer acknowledged the actor’s cooperation and underlined that the LOC was issued since the intention of the person cannot be ascertained until they flee.

Sushant Singh Rajput’s death in his Bandra home on June 14, 2020 sparked controversy and speculation, leading to investigations by various agencies, including the CBI and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). Rhea Chakraborty, who was in a relationship with Rajput at the time, has been at the centre of the investigation.

CBI entered the scene after an FIR was filed in Patna, later transferred to the CBI by the Supreme Court. LOCs against Rhea and her brother, Showik Chakraborty, were issued as part of the investigation.

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