November 1, 2015 1:09:49 am
A Metropolitan Magistrate has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to refrain from conducting personal searches of inmates in jails. This was after the agency found a matchbox on the person of Kolkata-based businessman Sanjeev Khanna, an accused in the murder of Sheena Bora. On Saturday, Khanna, along with fellow accused Indrani Mukerjea and Shyamwar Rai were produced at Esplanade Court as their judicial custody had ended. Magistrate N B Shinde asked their lawyers whether their clients had any grievances. Khanna told the magistrate that CBI officers frisked him earlier this week during the second round of interrogation inside Arthur Road Jail and found a matchbox in his pocket.
“This is against prison manual. They should be prevented from doing a physical search,” argued Khanna’s lawyer, Advocate Shreyansh Mithare.
While matches are sold in the jail canteen, inmates are not allowed to take them out of the designated smoking zone.
“When matches were found in Khanna’s possession during a body search before interrogation, the CBI informed the jail superintendent. But the jail superintendent informed the CBI about rules regarding sale of matches. The issue was sorted out,” said Bipin Kumar Singh, Inspector General of Police, Prisons. He added that a warning had been issued to Khanna not to repeat the violation.
While the CBI submitted to court that the search had been conducted “only for security purposes,” Magistrate Shinde ruled it was the “prime duty” of the jail superintendent to search inmates in case of any suspicion.
“As such, it would be proper for the staff of jail authority to search the accused in presence of IO, if at all required,” Magistrate Shinde observed.
The court directed jail authorities to conduct a medical examination of Mukerjea and submit a fitness report, after she complained of weakness. Mukerjea was rushed to hospital this week and tested for dengue, but the JJ Hospital found she had no dengue. Advocate Gunjan Mangla said Mukerjea was too weak to enter the witness box.
Her consent has been sought by CBI for a voice sample. “They (CBI) said they found an audio recording and want to match it,” Mangla said.
Mukerjea will be produced in court on November 3 for the CBI to obtain consent, provided the jail concludes she is fit to attend court. The court extended the judicial custody of all the three accused till November 7.
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