The jail authorities and the CBI had said Mukerjea might threaten witnesses if he is allowed to leave.
Mumbai: A special CBI court on Wednesday rejected an application filed by former media baron Peter Mukerjea seeking permission to attend his niece’s wedding in Bengaluru. The court, however, has said that Mukerjea could attend the wedding via video conferencing if jail authorities allow it. Mukerjea had applied for permission to attend the wedding as the girl’s father, Mukerjea’s brother, expired last year and, being eldest in the family, Mukerjea wanted to bless the couple himself.
The jail authorities and the CBI had opposed this application saying that Mukerjea — accused in the murder of Sheena Bora — might threaten witnesses if he is allowed to leave the jail. Accepting this contention, the special CBI judge, H.S. Mahajan, on Wednesday rejected his application to personally attend the wedding. As per the court’s order, Mukerjea can appeal to jail authorities to allow him to attend the wedding and bless the couple via video conferencing. However, the jail authorities would take an independent decision on his application. Though the court did not specify it, as per usual practice in such cases, it is the accused or his family that bears the cost of arranging the video-conferencing at their end. Mukerjea had said in his application that he is eldest in the family. “My brother has expired. It is my duty to oversee all the religious functions,” read his application, which was filed a week ago. Sheena, the daughter of Mukerjea’s wife, Indrani Mukerjea, from her previous relationship, was murdered in a car on April 24, 2012, and her body was later dumped and set afire in the neighbouring Raigad district.
The N.M. Joshi Marg police had last year arrested Indrani’s former driver Shyamwar Rai with an illegal firearm. According to the police, Rai, during investigation, spilled the beans about Sheena being murdered on April 24, 2012.
Following this, the police arrested Indrani and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and, on November 19, 2015, the police filed a chargesheet against these three accused and arrested Mukerjea the same day.
All the accused have been behind bars since their arrest and courts have also rejected their bail applications. In the meantime, Rai has turned approver in the case and the prosecution is expected to examine him as a witness. Rai’s statement has been recorded under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code and would be used as evidence against the co-accused in the court of trial.
The court is expected to hear arguments on framing of charges against the accused on December 19.