Police custody of the prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case — Indrani Mukerjea, Sanjeev Khanna and Shyamvar Rai — was on Saturday extended till September seven by a local court. The three were produced in the court this afternoon. Police sought extension of their custody on the ground that the ongoing probe had yet to cover “a large area”.
Twelve days after his arrest, Indrani’s former driver Shyamvar Rai finally engaged a lawyer on Saturday. No one had represented him at the earlier hearings. Indrani’s lawyer argued before the judge S M Chandgade that police were trying to create “a media trial”.
The remand application of police stated that the planning to kill Sheena’s brother Mikhail started from Kolkata. Mikhail has alleged that Indrani had tried to kill him too. The Mumbai police had said on Friday that digital superimposition of the profile of Sheena Bora had matched with the skull recovered from a forest in the neighbouring Raigad district.
During the hearing on Saturday, special public prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade said, “The accused (Indrani) remains uncooperative. “Scope of probe is large. Accused is a hard nut to crack. They have used modern tools like email and Internet to plan the murder. Progress shown is already on record. We have not wasted a single day. They impersonated the victim by creating false email. She (Indrani) created bogus email id. Custody is short considering the vastness of investigation.
Bagade said investigations were underway to ascertain who else helped Indrani. “We need to know who else helped her. Emails need to be studied. Crime was committed across jurisdictions. Bank accounts maintained by accused no 2 (Indrani) and accused no 3 (Khanna) are across UK and Mumbai. We need to investigate payments made from these accounts.
“We need to recover accused (Indrani’s) credit card. Accused shows complete reluctance to cooperate. Additional offence under section 307 (attempt to murder) was added. The material and person with whom accused no 2 had contact need to be investigated. Police need reasonable time as we are showing progress,” Bagade said.
The defence accused the police of “conducting a media trial and prejudicing the proceedings”. Indrani is not a hardened criminal, said her lawyer. “There is no medical evidence. Two days of police custody is a humiliation of my client. Accounts cannot be recovered from my client. She is in custody. They have to recover it from bankers,” he said.
Police also maintained that they had not yet given a “clean chit” to former media baron Peter Mukerjea — Indrani’s husband — in the case. The matching of digital superimposition with skull would be important in establishing that the human remains found in the forest in Pen tehsil of Raigad are of Sheena, the daughter of Indrani Mukerjea.
Indrani, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyamvar Rai have been arrested on the charge of murdering Sheena and disposing of the body in a Raigad forest in April 2012.
Peter Mukerjea, though not an accused, was questioned extensively on Friday at the Khar police station here for the third day in a row in the Sheena murder case. Police are also probing Peter and Indrani’s financial transactions.
The car used to take Sheena’s body to Raigad has been recovered and traced to a third-party owner, a senior officer had said last night. Police also claimed that an employee of Indrani’s company sent e-mails in Sheena’s name after her murder, he said.