Mumbai: Former media baron Peter Mukerjea, husband of prime accused Indrani Mukerjea in the Sheena Bora murder case, was today charged with murder, a day after his arrest and sent to CBI custody by a local court till Monday.
The CBI, which arrested Peter yesterday in a sensational twist to the case, told the court of Metropolitan Magistrate that he was involved in conspiracy with his wife Indrani and had played an active role in the murder of his step-daughter. Sheena was Indrani’s daughter from her first marriage.
The central probe gency, which was represented by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, also told the court that Peter was in continous conversation with Indrani prior, during and after the gruesome murder. Peter was also charged with criminal conspiracy.
The Metropolitan Magistrate also transferred the trial in the case to a sessions court here and directed the three accused–Indrani Mukerjea, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyamvar Rai– be produced there on December 3.
“The case is committed to CBI court and jail officials are directed to produce them to the sessions court,” ordered Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate RV Adone before whom the trio were produced.
The accused, who were arrested in August this year, and have been in judicial custody since then, was also handed over the copy of the chargesheet, which was filed by CBI yesterday.
According to sources, the probe agency, to which the case was handed over on September 29 after an apparent turf- war between the ousted Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and Ahmed Javed who replaced him, had questioned Peter for hours before it was decided to place him under arrest yesterday after another round of questioning for allegedly “shielding the accused” and “inconsistencies” in his statements.
Though Peter was earlier interrogated by the Mumbai Police, he had consistently maintained that he was unaware of what happened to Sheena as Indrani had told him that she was abroad.
The CBI, which filed its chargesheet yesterday three months after Sheena Bora’s remains were found in a forest near Mumbai in August this year, has charged Indrani, Khanna and Rai with criminal conspiracy to kidnap, murder, cheating, destruction of evidence, forgery and use of forged documents besides violation of provisions of Information Technology Act.
Sheena was allegedly murdered by her mother Indrani, Khanna and Rai in April 2012. The body of the 24-year-old was dumped in a forest in the neighbouring Raigad district.
While being taken out of the court, Indrani said she was innocent and was being “framed” in the murder of her daughter.
Meanwhile, Peter’s son Rahul Mukerjea, who had come to attend the court hearing here today, told reporters that his father’s arrest came as as “shock” to him.
“I don’t believe he knew (anything about the murder)..otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” he told reporters.
Rahul, who was earlier seen coming out of the CBI office at around 10.30 AM, is said to have been grilled by the probe agency for over 12 hours.
According to sources, he was called to the CBI office in South Mumbai last night and was asked whether he and Sheena had revealed to Peter that Sheena was not Indrani’s sister but her daughter.
He was also asked if he had raised concerns about Sheena’s safety after she disappeared in 2012, they said.
The statement of Rahul, who was purportedly in a relationship with Sheena, is being corroborated with the statement given by his father to ascertain the facts of the murder case.
Apart from Rahul and Peter, police have already questioned Vidhie, daughter of Indrani and Sanjeev Khanna besides Siddharth Das, biological father of Sheena and Mikhail Bora earlier.
Ever since the investigations began, the case has been through some dramatic turns like hospitalisation of Indrani after she collapsed in the Byculla prison.
The case also generated much political heat with the opposition attacking the BJP-led Government in Maharashtra for abrupt transfer of Maria in September in the midst of the probe.
Recently, Indrani was again hospitalised after her platelet count dipped drastically. However, doctors at the JJ Hospital here made it clear that she had not contracted dengue as suspected.
Before this, on October 2, Indrani was taken to hospital from Byculla womens’ prison in an unconscious state, fuelling speculation that she had overdosed on anti-depressant drugs. But the probe by Inspector General (Prisons) ruled out the possibility of drug overdose, poisoning or suicide bid. Later, she was discharged and sent back to jail.