Mumbai | A day after his arrest, former media baron Peter Mukerjea, husband of prime accused Indrani Mukerjea in the Sheena Bora murder case, was today charged with murder and criminal conspiracy by CBI which said he had played an active role in the killing of his step-daughter.
The CBI, which arrested Peter yesterday in a sensational twist to the case shortly after it filed over a 1,000 page chargesheet, told the court of Metropolitan Magistrate that he was involved in conspiracy with his wife Indrani in the murder of her daughter from her first marriage.
The central probe gency, which was represented by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, also told the court that Peter was in continous conversation with Indrani prior, during and after the gruesome murder. There was a dispute between Sheena and Indrani, and Peter had acted as a mediator, Singh contended.
Peter played an active role in the commission of the crime and also misled his son Rahul to hide the fact that Sheena was murdered, Singh told the court of Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate RV Adone.
Suggesting a financial angle to the murder of the 24-year-old in April 2012, the chargesheet said fear of Sheena inheriting the entire property of her and her husband in the event of the victim’s marriage to Peter’s son Rahul is said to be the prime motive for Indrani to do away with her daughter.
Indrani, who has a soft corner for Vidhie, her daughter with former husband Sanjeev Khanna, feared that the entire property might go to Sheena and Rahul if they were married, the chargesheet said, adding, In this context, she planned a conspiracy with Khanna and her driver Shyam Rai to kill Sheena Bora.
Singh submitted that Rahul and Sheena were about to get married and After that she (Sheena) could have got a share of property. And they (CBI) are looking into this (angle).
The probe agency also said that (when) Peter and Indrani returned separately (from the US) they were constantly in touch with each other, which was not normal at other times.
Though Peter was abroad, telephone conversation during 2/3 days around the (date of the) crime lasted 20 to 25 minutes each time, Singh told the court.
Also, Sheena’s mobile and ATM cards are missing, he told the court.
The agency told the court that Rahul had recorded his conversation with Peter in which his father told him that he has spoken to Sheena and she was in the US. The CBI also sought 14 days of custody of Peter arguing he has multiple bases like Mumbai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong and abroad. The court, however, granted the agency the custody of Peter till November 23.
Peter made no effort to trace Sheena’s whereabouts and misled Rahul, Singh told the court.
While being taken out of the court, Indrani said she was innocent and was being framed in the murder of her daughter.
The CBI, which filed its chargesheet yesterday three months after Sheena’s remains were found in a forest near Mumbai in August this year, has charged Indrani, Khanna and Rai with criminal conspiracy to kidnap, murder, cheating, destruction of evidence, forgery and use of forged documents besides violation of provisions of Information Technology Act.
Sheena was allegedly murdered by her mother Indrani, Khanna and Rai in April 2012. Her body was found dumped in a forest in the neighbouring Raigad district.
Magistrate Adone also transferred the trial in the case to a sessions court here and directed the three accused–Indrani Mukerjea, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and driver Shyamvar Rai– be produced there on December 3.
The case is committed to CBI court and jail officials are directed to produce them to the sessions court, ordered Adone before whom the trio were produced.
The accused, who were arrested in August this year and have been in judicial custody since then, was also handed over the copy of the chargesheet, which was filed by CBI yesterday.
According to sources, the probe agency, to which the case was handed over on September 29 after an apparent turf- war between the ousted Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and Ahmed Javed who replaced him, had questioned Peter for hours before it was decided to place him under arrest yesterday after another round of questioning for allegedly shielding the accused and inconsistencies in his statements.
Though Peter was earlier interrogated by the Mumbai Police, he had consistently maintained that he was unaware of what happened to Sheena as Indrani had told him that she was abroad.
Meanwhile, Peter’s son Rahul Mukerjea, who had come to attend the court hearing here today, told reporters that his father’s arrest came as as shock to him.
I don’t believe he knew (anything about the murder)..otherwise I wouldn’t be here, he told reporters. Rahul, who was earlier seen coming out of the CBI office at around 10.30 AM, is said to have been grilled by the probe agency for over 12 hours. According to sources, he was called to the CBI office in South Mumbai last night and was asked whether he and Sheena had revealed to Peter that Sheena was not Indrani’s sister but her daughter.
He was also asked if he had raised concerns about Sheena’s safety after she disappeared in 2012, they said. The statement of Rahul, who was purportedly in a relationship with Sheena, is being corroborated with the statement given by his father to ascertain the facts of the murder case.
Apart from Rahul and Peter, police have already questioned Vidhie, daughter of Indrani and Sanjeev Khanna besides Siddharth Das, biological father of Sheena and Mikhail Bora earlier.
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