Sheena Bora Case: Bombay HC Hauls CBI, Special Judge Over Coals

Bombay HC pulls up special judge and CBI for withholding a key statement in Sheena murder case, writes Chandan Nandy

4 min read
Indrani Mukherjea and her former first husband and suspect in Sheena Bora murder case, Sanjeev Khanna. (Photo: Lijumol Joseph/ <b>The Quint</b>)

The Bombay High Court today came down heavily on the CBI and a special CBI court judge for unnecessarily withholding from an accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, a copy of a statement made by Indrani Mukerjea’s driver Shyamwar Rai under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

In its scathing eight-page order, passed after the hearing of a petition by Sanjeev Khanna, Indrani’s former husband, Justice Sadhana Jadhav said that the “procedure adopted by the investigating agency (the CBI) could not be justified in any manner.”

Stopping short of holding the CBI responsible for causing delay in the trial of the sensational murder case, the high court did not spare the special judge H S Mahajan, saying: “It would not be proper for the learned Special Judge to observe that prosecution is not relying upon the said (confessional statement).”

Indrani Mukherjea, suspected accused in Sheena Bora murder case after being produced at a Mumbai Court on November 20, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
Indrani Mukherjea, suspected accused in Sheena Bora murder case after being produced at a Mumbai Court on November 20, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

Special Judge Rebuked

The judge ordered Mahajan to “give a copy of the statement of the co-accused (Rai) recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC on November 6, 2015. It shall be made a part of the charge-sheet” and the “learned Special Judge is hereby directed to give the copy immediately on receipt of this order.”

Since the case moved to the special CBI court, Mahajan has consistently gone along with the agency’s submissions, so much so that he acquiesced to its stand that Rai’s statement made under Section 164 of the CrPC was not being relied upon and therefore its copies would not be given to either Khanna or the other two accused – Indrani and her husband Peter Mukerjea.

While remarking on Mahajan’s conduct, Justice Jadhav cited Section 207 of the CrPC which says that “the Magistrate shall without delay furnish to the accused, free of cost, a copy of…the confessions and statements, if any, recorded under Section 164.”

CBI Also Questioned for Withholding the Statement

Justice Jadhav castigated the CBI, saying that “there is no reason for the investigating agency or the Court, seized with the matter, to withhold the statement as the prosecution would be relying upon the said statement…A statutory right is accrued upon the accused to have material on the basis of which he is to be prosecuted. In fact, it is the prosecution of an accused and not persecution of an accused person.”

Since the time Rai made the statement, the CBI has done everything in its power to block the accused persons’ access to it. What does it contain that led the CBI to prevent it from being accessed? Has Rai narrated a story at complete variance with the CBI’s investigation which, in any case, is full of glaring holes?

Since the murder was exposed in August last year with Rai’s arrest, The Quint has published a series of stories exposing the inconsistencies in the investigations of the Mumbai Police and the CBI. The Mumbai Police faced a lot of flak following the excessive interest taken by the then city commissioner Rakesh Maria in the Sheena Bora murder case.

File photo of Indrani Mukherjea’s former first husband, Sanjeev Khanna. (Photo courtesy: ANI)
File photo of Indrani Mukherjea’s former first husband, Sanjeev Khanna. (Photo courtesy: ANI)

Other Crucial Evidence Not Shared by CBI

Indeed, there are strong reasons to believe that a gun was planted on Rai to take him into custody, which “helped” the Mumbai Police to aggressively, though not judiciously and methodically, pursue the case. Once the case was transferred to the CBI towards the end of September 2015, the investigating agency maintained the basic findings of the Mumbai Police, though with a few differences.

Not just Rai’s statement, the CBI has not shared several other documents, including Khanna and Sheena’s call data records (CDRs) which would be vital to establish their location on April 24, 2012, the day the murder took place. Besides, the agency made a vital witness, Indrani’s personal secretary Kajal Sharma, change the time she met her employer at her Marlow residence the day the murder took place.

While Sharma has claimed in her statement to the CBI, made under Section 161 of the CrPC, that she entered Indrani’s apartment sometime in the afternoon on 24 August, 2012, in her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC she claimed that she went to Mukerjeas’ residence at 11:30 am.

Also read:
Sheena Bora Murder Case: Rai Turns Approver, But Loose Ends Remain
Was Sheena Bora Killed in a Car or at Peter Mukerjea’s ​Residence?
Peter Failed Polygraph Test After Being Questioned on Sheena

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