In the high-profile case of the mysterious death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, which the CBI and the ED went silent on while the NCB diverted public attention to drug consumers in Bollywood, the bail plea from suspect and one-time friend of the dead actor Siddharth Pithani has been pending a hearing for about six months. The NCB probe, meanwhile, involved examining Pithani too.
The Supreme Court on 3 February 2021 junked a PIL seeking direction to the CBI to submit a status report in Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput death case. A bench comprising then-Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian dismissed the plea filed by advocate Puneet Kaur Dhanda.
To the uninitiated, Mumbai Police had claimed Sushant Singh Rajput (34) was found hanging in his Mumbai apartment on 14 June 2020. His death paved the way for several conspiracy theories, some of which involved his then-girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and others were about the Bollywood biggies who stand in support of nepotism. But as in the case of the murder of Arushi Talwar in Noida in 2008, the CBI received the case after it was badly botched up by the local police, sources in the central agency say.
Pithani, who was linked with Sushant Singh Rajput, has not been granted bail yet because his case is still pending in court. His lawyer, Tarak Sayyed, shed some light on the legal tangle in a conversation with ETimes where he said, “We have applied for bail in January but the hearing is yet to come up in court.”
Previously, the court had permitted Pithani to attend his own wedding in July 2021 in Hyderabad. He reportedly only took a few days off and surrendered himself within the next two weeks.
Pithani was a roommate of Sushant Singh Rajput at the time of the actor’s death and he claimed to be the first person to spot the actor’s body in his room — even though his phone call records of the day tell a different story. Pithani had started staying with Sushant to reportedly work on a film project titled “Dream 150”. The NCB questioned him several times before arresting him.
Vikas Singh had said two years ago, “Siddharth Pithani is extremely dubious. He is a very intelligent criminal. Until FIR was registered by family he was talking to them regularly and trying to help them. The moment FIR was registered, he started helping Rhea.”
“The way he has behaved after registration of FIR, the way he is writing email to Rhea when she’s a named accused. Helping a named accused in this manner shows complicity between Rhea and him. It is only upon custodial interrogation that the real truth will come out,” Vikas Singh had said.
An IT professional, Siddharth Pithani had told various news channels about the actor’s last moments and he was grilled by various agencies over his version.
Pithani, nicknamed Buddha by Sushant Singh Rajput, had been living with him for about a year before his death. His allegations fed media frenzy and speculation in the days and weeks after the actor’s shocking death.
The CBI had questioned Pithani more than half a dozen times in September 2020.
On the part of the NCB, it had on 5 March 2021 submitted its charge sheet before a Mumbai Special NDPS Court, following two cases registered by the drug law enforcement agency after an intimation from the Enforcement Directorate that is probing the financial angles in Sushant’s death.
The NCB said that during the investigation, a huge cache of drugs — including banned substances — electronic gadgets and Indian currency besides foreign currency had been seized. The charge sheet said that evidence of the purchase of drugs and their use had been traced during the investigation into the affairs of Pithani from his gadgets and mobile phone data. The recovered drugs were sent for chemical examination.
The investigation of the case was based on the statements of the accused, technical evidence such as the call of the accused, detailed WhatsApp chats, bank details, financial transactions and other statements and documentary evidence. The charge sheet is a total of 11 thousand 700 pages which has been filed in the court in electronic form.
The issues with Pithani are clearly too complex while the evidence that incriminates him and witnesses who implicate him can be influenced if he is out on bail. “However, there is no strong case for denial of bail either,” said a senior lawyer on the condition of anonymity, adding, “This is why you see the bail application hanging in the balance.”
Meanwhile, Union MSME Minister Narayan Rane continues to hold that Sushant Singh Rajput and his talent manager Disha Salian were murdered by the same set of people and the two incidents are linked.
Rane said in February that he was ready and would provide any information the CBI requires from him.
When pointed out that nothing came out of the probe, he said: “A murder probe never gets closed…it can be opened any time.”
Disha (28) had reportedly committed suicide by jumping from the 14th floor of Galaxy Regent building at Mumbai’s Malad on the intervening night of 8-9 June 2020. Her death occured five days before the dead body of Sushant Singh Rajput (34) was found at his rented duplex flat in Bandra on 14 June 2020.