Indrani Mukerjea, the main accused in the murder case of her daughter Sheen Bora, told a special court on Friday that her former driver, Shyamvar Rai, who has turned an approver in the case, sought Rs 50 lakh to not depose against her.
Indrani, who was arguing her bail application in person before the court, alleged that Rai had made the offer several times while she and the co-accused in the case — her former husbands Sanjeev Khanna and Peter Mukerjea — travelled from jail to the court together in a police van for nine months.
The Bombay High Court granted bail to Peter on Thursday but stayed its execution for six weeks so that the CBI, which is probing the case, can file an appeal before the Supreme Court. The other accused are still in jail.
“The CBI claims that if I am granted bail, I will influence witnesses. I have never revealed this but when Shyamvar Rai travelled with me for nine months, before he gave an application to become an approver, he had a very clear conversation with me. ‘Give me Rs 50 lakh, I will not say anything’, he told me. I told him he can say whatever he wants. I could have easily influenced him. But I did not want to, as I knew I had not done anything,” Indrani told the court.
She added that Rai went on to reduce the amount first to Rs 15 lakh, then to Rs 10 lakh and subsequently, made a similar offer to Khanna for Rs 5 lakh, which he refused.
Bora (24) was Indrani’s daughter from an earlier relationship. The killing came to light in 2015 when Rai, who helped dispose the body, was arrested in another case.
Rai, who was initially lodged at Arthur Road Jail along with Khanna and Peter after their arrest in 2015, was subsequently moved to a Thane jail in 2016. On May 10, 2016, he told the court that he was repenting and wanted to reveal all about the conspiracy behind the murder. His plea was allowed by the court after the CBI didn’t object.
During his deposition in 2017 as a prosecution witness, Rai had claimed that he was present when Bora was murdered on April 24, 2012 as well as when her body was burnt and buried in a village in Raigad the next day.
Indrani told the court that she would not have needed to rope in Rai only to drive them, as she has driving licenses in both India and UK, of which she is a citizen. She added that Peter too had two driving licenses and Khanna is a “motor rally driver”.
Alleging multiple discrepancies in Rai’s earlier statements, Indrani claimed that there was no forensic evidence against her and that she was being unfairly punished. She claimed that unlike the CBI claim that she had gone to Raigad to recce for a spot to bury the body, she was looking for properties to open an old age home with Peter, her then husband.
She further said that the CBI, while opposing her bail plea, had claimed that she was an influential person and could tamper with evidence, Peter was “more influential”, as he had spent 20 years in the media and she spent only two.
Indrani also claimed that while she was in jail from August 2015, in the initial two and a half months, she received letters and requests to sign documents, which was not allowed by the jail authorites. She added that the jail staff also advised her against it, as none of her family members had come to meet her. This included Peter, who was arrested in November that year.
“I came to know later that my jewellery was moved from my locker to another, which was jointly owned by Peter’s sons (from an earlier marriage),” she claimed.
Alleging that she suspected that her arrest was timed to take place a day before her daughter Vidhie’s 18th birthday, Indrani said: “Peter and I were custodians of a flat at Marlow building in Worli till Vidhie turned 18, after which she was to get its ownership. After my arrest, Peter gave a letter to the building society to defer the transfer… the flat is currently in Peter’s son’s name.”
“I cannot prove anything. We are divorced… everything is over. But this could be a reason why I was arrested,” she claimed.
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