Sheena murder: Custody of accused extended till Sept 13

Mumbai: A CBI Special Court on Friday extended the judicial custody of the three prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case — Indrani Mukerjea, her husband Peter and former husband Sanjeev Khanna — till September 13.

Special CBI Judge H.S. Mahajan also directed the CBI to begin its arguments on framing the charges in the case from that date.

At the hearing on Friday, the CBI submitted that there should not be a ‘parallel trial’ in the sensational murder case after leaked telephone conversations reportedly involving the Mukerjeas — Indrani, Peter and his son Rahul — suggesting an alleged cover-up of the killing, surfaced in the electronic media on Thursday.

“The prosecution can argue the framing of charges… I will expedite the trial,” Special Judge Mahajan said after Special Public Prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil said they were prepared to start the trial.

The lawyers for the accused, including Peter’s advocate Mihir Gheewala, informed the court they were ready as well though the CBI has yet to inform the court that its investigations are over.

Contending that since Thursday, which marked one year since the Sheena murder case surfaced, the media was attempting to ‘snatch’ words from two CBI witnesses, they said the witnesses needed to be protected and urged that there should not be a a parallel trial.

Both the Special Judge and the CBI made it clear that the tapes had not leaked from their respective sides, but Special Judge Mahajan said nobody was taking the (media) reports seriously.

Gheewala contended that the tapes form a vital evidence in the case and their airing could directly affect the witnesses.

He moved an application seeking the Special Court’s direction to the CBI to take all measures to prevent the potential evidence, documents, statements of witnesses and other material produced in the chargesheet from being used by the media without the court’s permission.

The Special Judge said if the CBI feels anybody is doing this ‘intentionally’ it could go ahead and take action against them.

The CBI has said certain audio clips pertaining to the case are on record and form an ‘integral part’ of the chargesheet and have already been fully investigated.

Sheena Bora, 24, the daughter of Indrani Mukerjea from a previous relationship, was allegedly strangulated in a vehicle on April 24, 2012 and later her burnt body was dumped in a bag in the forests near Gagode, in Raigad district adjacent to Mumbai.

The Mumbai Police arrested Indrani, her former driver Shyamvar P. Rai and ex-husband Khanna in August 2015, and later the CBI nabbed Peter Mukerjea in November.

On June 20 this year, the Special Court granted Rai’s plea for a pardon in return for turning approver and a prosecution witness in the case.