Media magnate Indrani Mukerjea, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyamvar Rai, all accused in the sensational Sheena Bora murder case, will be questioned in jail by CBI with a Mumbai court on Wednesday granting 12 days permission for it.
This comes almost a month after the Maharashtra government transferred the murder case to the CBI after much dithering on the supervisory role of then Mumbai police chief Rakesh Maria, who was heading the probe before he was suddenly shunted out. The Metropolitan Magistrate court had reserved till Wednesday its order on CBI’s plea to quiz the three accused in jail.
“The application is allowed,” said R V Adone, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Esplanade court. The court said that CBI can interrogate the trio till October 19 (the day when their judicial custody ends) and if the probe agency feels the need for further questioning then it may move a fresh application on that day, he said.
Seeking permission to quiz the accused, the CBI had told the court that it had only recently taken over the probe from Mumbai Police which is why interrogation of the trio was necessary. The central agency also told the court if permission for interrogation is not given, it will have to rely on the investigation conducted by local police. The agency had sought at least three weeks to interrogate the accused in jail.
Indrani’s lawyer Gunjan Mangala told the court she does not have any objection to her client being interrogated by CBI investigators in the jail.
Khanna’s lawyer Shreyansh Mithare, too, said he is not opposed to interrogation if there is any new ground but Rai’s counsel Shrinivas Bhave objected to the CBI plea, saying the investigation in the case was over. On October 5, the Metropolitan court had extended the judicial custody of all the accused till October 19.
Last evening, Indrani was discharged from J J Hospital and shifted to Byculla Women’s Prison, where she is lodged under judicial custody since last month. On Friday, the 43-year-old had fallen unconscious in the jail due to suspected drug overdose and rushed to the state-run JJ hospital.
After Indrani’s hospitalisation, conflicting reports
had emerged on suspected drug overdose in prison. While one report said she had overdosed on anti-depressant pills, the other said it did not any trace of overdose.
Yesterday, Vijay Satbir Singh, Principal Secretary (Appeals and Security) had said that since Indrani is mentally and physically fit now, her statement will be recorded either in the night or this morning to ascertain the circumstances under which she collapsed in jail.
Indrani reportedly told the Byculla jail authorities that she had not attempted sucide as speculated and remembered feeling giddy before fainting.
Newly-appointed IG (Prisons) Bipin Kumar Singh is heading the probe into the episode.
“She has completely recovered now and is safe and sound. The crisis is over. It is now for the inquiry officer to record her statement at his convenience. Whatever she tells authorities will be included in the report that is to be sent to the state Home Ministry,” Vijay Singh told PTI.
Indrani and the two other accused were arrested in August-end on the charge of murdering her daughter in April 2012 and disposing of the body in a forest in Raigad district, about 84 km from here.
Police had exhumed remains of a body and claimed digital superimposition of the profile of Sheena (24) had matched with the skull recovered from the forest.
Mumbai Police had also grilled media baron Peter Mukerjea, Indrani’s husband, several times but he has not been made an accused in the case.
The case, after witnessing several twists and turns since it came to light in August, was handed over to CBI by the Maharashtra Government in mid-September after much filp-flop on the supervisory role of Maria, who was shunted in the midst of the inquiry.
The government had defended the decision of handing over the probe to the central agency, contending it was warranted due to multiple angles to the case, including possible financial motives.