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Court extends custody: ‘Peter not a common man. Didn’t break down during grilling’

The CBI told the court that Peter Mukerjea, during questioning, has disclosed investments made by him and wife Indrani in UK and India but not source of money.

Written by Srinath Raghvendra Rao | New Delhi |
Updated: November 24, 2015 5:11:10 am
sheena bora murder, peter mukerjea, indrani mukerjea, cbi, sheena murder, sheena bora, peter, latest news, Peter Mukerjea coming out of CBI Office at Nariman Point. (Source: Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

A local court remanded former media honcho Peter Mukerjea in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) till November 26 after observing that he hadn’t broken during interrogation like a common man.

“He is not a common man. A common man breaks somewhere during interrogation,” ruled Magistrate M R Natu on Monday afternoon.

The CBI did not provide any new grounds to seek Peter’s custody on Monday, arguing just as it had on Friday that he had an important role in the conspiracy to murder his step-daughter Sheena Bora in 2012.

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The agency repeated its allegations that soon after Sheena’s disappearance, Peter lied to his son Rahul that Sheena was alive and well in the USA and that he had spoken to her. Rahul and Sheena were engaged. “Their affair was known to everybody. Rahul was very disturbed after Sheena went missing. The accused gave this statement to his own son,” said Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh. Rahul handed over a recording of this conversation with Peter to the CBI.

Singh told the court that Rahul had quizzed Peter about how Sheena could have gone to the USA when he had her passport. The CBI also alleged that Peter and his jailed wife Indrani Mukerjea had attempted to access Sheena’s email account only days after her death. “On April 28, 2012, Peter and Indrani went to Goa together. There they tried to access Sheena’s gmail account but could not,” Singh said. The duo returned to Mumbai on May 1 and then flew to London.

The CBI told the court that Peter had made phone calls from London to Indrani before, during and after the commission of the crime. Senior counsel Amit Desai, who represented Peter, argued his client had gone through three months of “gruelling and grilling” interrogation and wondered what new information had come to light last week.

“Something happened to trigger the arrest. Information about his calls had been taken from the service providers. It is not as if on November 18 or 19 they found some startling piece of evidence,” Desai said.

Desai added that Peter had no overt role in the alleged conspiracy and stated that he had all financial records available to the Mumbai Police and the CBI. “Peter has been attending the offices of the investigating agencies since three months. The CBI discovered all the facts three months ago,” he argued.
The CBI alleged that Peter had not disclosed facts relevant to the case, in particular, Indrani’s investments in fixed deposits in the United Kingdom worth “crores of rupees.” Desai countered however, saying that the CBI was taking a “leap of faith” that it was because of his investments that Peter wasn’t disclosing facts relating to the murder.
Singh closed his arguments stating that the timing and duration of Peter’s phone calls were crucial. “A female who has killed her daughter cannot do it alone,” he said.

While ruling for Peter’s extension of custody, magistrate Natu observed that concealing the murder of Sheena of two-and-half-years showed the “mental status of the accused” and the “tough mentality of the present accused.”
“If we club the tough mentality and the progress made by the investigating agency, there is found for extension of custody,” the magistrate ruled.

Seeing the huge crowd of reporters in court, he remarked, “Is this case scary for society?”
Outside the court, Peter said, “I was not aware of the murder. I have nothing to do with the case. And I am not angry with Rahul.”

 

srinath.rao@expressindia.com

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