CBI seeks US help in Sushant Singh Rajput death case
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has approached the United States through a formal channel, seeking assistance in retrieving deleted data from the email and social media accounts of actor Sushant Singh Rajput to understand if anything happened in the past which could be linked to June 14, 2020, the day he was found dead at his apartment in Mumbai, people familiar with the development said.
The information has been sought under MLAT (mutual legal assistance treaty) from California-headquartered Google and Facebook, asking them to share details of all deleted chats, emails or posts of the actor so that investigators can analyse the content.
India and the US have an MLAT under which both sides can gain access to information in any domestic investigation, which otherwise may not be possible. While the ministry of home affairs (MHA) is the central authority in India for receiving or sharing such information under MLAT, the attorney general’s office processes such information in the US.
An officer, who didn’t want to be named, said: “We don’t want to leave any loose ends before we finalise the case. We want to know if there are any particular deleted chats or posts which could be useful in the case.”
The development means that finalising the probe in Sushant Singh’s death may take some more time as sharing information through MLATs is a time-consuming process.
The premier agency explained last year through a statement that it is probing the case from all angles. Among the angles it is exploring are abetment of suicide charges against Rhea Chakraborty, as alleged by Rajput’s family; and whether the actor took the step under any professional pressure, nepotism in Bollywood, etc.
“Sending the request to the US is part of that exercise only as we don’t want to miss out on any aspect,” said a second officer, asking not to be named.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who represents Sushant Singh’s family, appreciated CBI sending a request to Google and Facebook. He said: “I am not surprised because they (CBI) want to do a thorough investigation before they finalise the case. There is a lot of mystery behind Sushant Singh’s death like there are no eyewitnesses, or camera footage to show what happened and I think that CBI is trying to find a proper lead.”
As reported by HT on June 14 this year, the CBI, with the help of experts, is also carrying out a detailed psychiatric evaluation to assess Singh’s state of mind prior to his death. It has also examined the reports shared by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL).
The 34-year-old actor was found dead in his apartment in Mumbai’s Bandra on June 14 last year. Rajput’s father, KK Singh, lodged a complaint with the Patna police against Rhea Chakraborty, her parents and her brother, Showik, on June 25. The CBI took over the probe in August 2020 on orders of the Supreme Court. Two other agencies — the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) — are also investigating different aspects in the case.
A medical board of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had concluded in September 2020, after studying the post-mortem exam and viscera reports, that the actor’s death was a case of suicide.
The Mumbai Police, which initially probed the death, had also ruled out any foul play.