A DAY after Indrani Mukherjea was discharged from JJ Hospital, she was produced in the special CBI court conducting the Sheena Bora murder trial through a video-conferencing link from the Byculla women’s jail. On Thursday, a key prosecution witness, Kajal Sharma, who was Indrani’s secretary, was expected to depose. Indrani’s advocates, Gunjan Mangla and Ayaz Khan, submitted before the court that Indrani should remain present in court for the recording of evidence and sought an adjournment.
A medical officer from Byculla women’s jail told the court that Indrani was inspected at 10.30 am on Thursday morning and that she is unable to walk. The officer added that Indrani was complaining of weakness and will need four-five days to recover completely.
The court asked her advocates to ask Indrani, through the video-conferencing link, if she would want to be present during the deposition of the third witness, Sharma. Indrani responded saying: “Yes, please”. Indrani said she was not in a position to attend the court. Her advocates submitted an earlier order of the Bombay High Court on the required presence of an accused during recording of evidence. The court then directed that the trial be adjourned till she recovers and can come to court.
CBI prosecutor Bharat Badami requested the court that since the witness had come to court twice, heavy cost should be imposed on Indrani to pay the witness’ expenses. Indrani’s advocate countered the CBI stating that since Indrani had taken ill while in custody, it is the state’s responsibility and, therefore, the cost cannot be incurred. No cost was imposed on Indrani by the court.
After the court’s direction on Wednesday for Indrani’s co-accused, ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and husband, Peter Mukerjea, regarding not eating outside food in the court, Peter, Thursday, entered the witness box to seek permission from Special Judge JC Jagdale to eat before leaving for jail. The judge inquired about who had brought the food. On being told that it was brought by a friend, the court asked the person about his identity and the food he had brought. The man named JP Swami told the court that he had brought a burger and coffee. Peter told the court that if he did not eat at regular intervals, his sugar level drops.
The judge said eating was a basic necessity and on “humanitarian grounds”, he would allow Peter to eat. The judge told Peter that since he and Indrani are witnesses in another case (one against Karti Chidambaram in the INX Media deal), there is apprehension about their safety and care should be taken. Peter then proceeded to eat. Constables from his police escort team, however, directed Peter’s friend to eat the food before Peter did to ensure it was safe for consumption. The friend then had the fries, burger and coffee before Peter was given the food.