HOURS AFTER Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis revealed that he was given the impression by those at the helm of the investigation in the Sheena Bora murder case that the accused Peter Mukerjea had no role in the murder of his stepdaughter, sources close to the former Mumbai Police chief, Rakesh Maria, told The Indian Express that he had never called or briefed the CM on the case.
“Maria handled the case for 12 days before he was transferred and promoted as DG, State Home Guard. He never called or briefed the CM on the case. So if the CM had an impression that Peter had no role to play in the case, it wasn’t given by Maria at least,” sources said.
Sources add that Maria had asked his probe team to write to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) asking them to join the probe. “The team in merely 12 days touched upon many angles including getting details of Peter’s finances in Spain, UK and USA and even in India.
Maria himself had asked the investigating officer to write to the ED to join the probe as he suspected that Peter and Indrani had laundered money made by them in the News-X channel deal. If he wanted to protect Peter he wouldn’t have asked his officer to write to ED,” sources said.
On Saturday, speaking to a news channel, Fadnavis said, “I was always briefed that the involvement of Peter directly in the case is not seen. This was briefed to me for a long time until I decided to give the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). It is strange why Peter’s role was not established at that time,” Fadnavis told Times Now news channel.
Asked why the Mumbai Police didn’t arrest Peter, sources close to the officer say it is unfair to judge Maria on the probe done by him in 12 days. Sources contested, “Maria quizzed Peter for the first time on September 7. Before that he had never met him or wasn’t acquainted to him. Even the September 7 interaction was for a brief period and the next day when he decided to grill him further he learnt about his promotion and transfer.
The same day, he quit his post. Peter was summoned to the Khar police station every day since the arrest of Indrani on August 25, last year. While briefing the media, Maria had maintained that Peter was not given a clean chit.
While Maria and his team, in less than a fortnight got the remains suspected to be that of Sheena Bora from Raigad exhumed, got confirmation from the Mumbai Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) that the remains were indeed that of Sheena and also got the financial details of the couple, on the other hand, the CBI arrested Peter on the 90th day after taking over investigation in the case,” sources said defending the former Mumbai top cop.
Fadnavis also told the news channel that while promoting and transferring an officer before his tenure ends is not unusual, there were two reasons behind promoting Maria as DG, Home Guards. “At that time there was a controversy around him as to why the commissioner of police was taking so much keen interest in the case and in the past there was the Lalit Modi case on which he had given his clarification. We therefore decided to promote and transfer him early,” Fadnavis said.
Defending Maria, sources argued that nobody questioned him while he took keen interest to ensure the peaceful funeral of 1993 Bombay blast accused Yakub Memon or when he followed every lead to ensure the arrest of the accused in the techie Esther Anuya murder case. “As the commissioner, Maria could have just been seated in his office and supervised the law and order situation during the Yakub Memon funeral, but he was at Mahim ensuring that the funeral goes off peacefully. In another instance, nobody raised an eyebrow when he summoned all his zonal DCPs to crack the DN Nagar serial molester case or when he followed every lead in the techie Esther Anuya case and arrested the accused,” another source said defending Maria.
“In the Bora case, he visited Khar police four times— the first two for discussing the case with the lawyer, the third to discuss with his probe team on making the arrested accused Shayamvar Rai (former driver of the couple) an approver in the case and the fourth when he quizzed Peter,” the source added.
CBI recently recorded the statement of three senior IPS officers, Maria, Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order) Deven Bharti and Deputy Commissioner of Police Satyanarayan Chaudhary. “While Maria’s statement was recorded before we filed the third chargesheet in the case, the statement of Bharti was recorded subsequently,” added the official.
Four, including Bora’s mother Indrani and her stepfather Peter Mukerjea, the founder of News X channel, have been arrested in connection with the case. The case is currently being probed by the CBI which has filed three chargesheets in the case.