The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail plea of Indrani Mukerjea, the prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case. A single-judge bench of Justice Nitin W Sambre heard Mukerjea’s first regular bail plea.
Mukerjea is facing trial for allegedly murdering her daughter Sheena on April 24, 2012. She was arrested by Khar police on August 25, 2015, and has been lodged at the Byculla Jail since September 2015. Her former husbands Peter Mukerjea, ex-CEO of Star India, and Sanjeev Khanna are the co-accused in the case.
Opposing the bail plea, the CBI said, “Applicant Indrani is the main accused who entered into criminal conspiracy with other accused and executed murder of her own daughter and thereafter disposed the dead body with the help of co-accused Sanjeev Khanna.” It added that the “nature and gravity of offence committed by Indrani is very serious and it attracts punishment of death sentence”.
When the judge, on Monday, sought to know from Mukerjea’s lawyer whether she wanted to withdraw the plea, her counsel said she wanted to “invite order on merits” and add a few more submissions. The judge refused to hear further submissions and rejected the plea.
On February 6 last year, the high court granted bail to Peter, who had been lodged at Arthur Road Jail for over four years in connection with the murder. Co-accused Khanna is still in Arthur Road jail.
Appearing for Indrani Mukerjea, advocate Sana Raees Khan submitted that her client has been in jail for six years during the pre-trial stage and only 67 witnesses have been examined by CBI so far out of the 252 as per chargesheet, and examination of 185 more witnesses will delay the trial. Khan submitted that the CBI had filed a report on August 17 this year stating the investigation phase of the case is over. Therefore, custody of the applicant is no longer required as it will take years for the trial to conclude, the plea said.
The plea said continuous incarceration infringed on her right to personal liberty and right to fair trial. Khan also sought that her client be released on medical grounds as her last medical report from JJ Hospital said she had an “irreversible neurological condition” and indicated a possibility of brain stroke. The applicant denied the charges of prior conspiracy and said the CBI could not provide material to substantiate its claims, as its claims based on approver/state witness and her former driver Shyamwar Rai are inconsistent and false.
Mukerjea further said the sessions judge, which rejected her bail plea in August last year, failed to consider the ground of parity with co-accused Peter.
For the CBI, advocate Sandesh Patil argued that Mukerjea was denied bail five times since 2017 and the trial was held up due to Covid and resumed in February this year. Opposing the bail plea, Patil added that the jail authority had in February this year told the HC that Mukerjea’s medical condition was stable and she does not have any severe ailment which cannot be treated in prison.
Patil said it had summoned and recorded the statement of co-accused Peter Mukerjea’s son Rahul under section 161 of the CrPC, which proves the motive for murder and also that he dropped Sheena near Amarsons showroom, National College, Khar at 6.30 pm on the day of the murder and while he was dropping Mukerjea, he was in regular contact with Sheena over the phone.
The reasoned order will be made available in due course.