The CBI’s arrest of INX co-founder Peter Mukerjea has led to questions being raised about why the Mumbai police, which handled the initial investigation into the Sheena Bora murder case, did not.
Sources in the Mumbai police, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that they were going about their job systematically and that the case was taken away from them before they could complete the investigation.
The sources pointed out that the investigation went into a limbo after 14 days when Rakesh Maria was removed as commissioner of police. The Mumbai police were handling case for 18 more days before it was transferred to the CBI, which has filed a charge sheet and made the fresh arrest of Peter after 67 days.
A senior police officer, who was part of the investigation said, “We had 14 days [police custody of the accused] to question Indrani, Sanjeev Khanna and Shyamwar Rai. And within that period we had to ensure that the case is watertight, and enough evidence is gathered.”
The officer went on to add, “We had called Peter on three different occasions for questioning, but we would not have been able to arrest him on day one without having any evidence.”
Once Maria was transferred, Mumbai police could have still have questioned Peter, but this did not happen.
Neither Maria nor Ahmad Javed who took over from him as police commissioner was available for comment.
Another senior retired police officer said, “There is no doubt that Peter has to do a lot of explaining as he was inconsistent in his statements when asked if he was aware that Sheena was Indrani’s daughter and not sister. Things will be revealed in due course by the CBI. People are asking questions as to why Mumbai police did not do the arrest but in a situation of arrest, the police officer has to justify it in front of the court. Arrest depends upon allegation and evidence.”
“There should have been some accountability. Peter should have been arrested on day one as this case needed custodial interrogation and if there was any lack of evidence in the later stage, he could have been discharged. Mumbai police will now take defence that they were proceeding with the investigation,” said YP Singh, former IPS officer turned lawyer.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, State home department officials claimed that Peter’s arrest proved that the removal of Maria as Mumbai police commissioner was right. “The decision was resultant of certain inputs and information received to us,” said a top official.
The sudden transfer of Maria in the midst of the murder investigation had kicked up a controversy. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who ordered the transfer, had reportedly questioned the need for Maria to personally monitor the investigation. Maria on his part had said that he did not want to take any chances as high profile persons were involved and that he did not want the Sheena Bora case to go the way of the Aarushi Talwar murder case in Delhi.
Additional chief secretary (home) KP Bakshi refused to comment on the matter beyond saying, “The CBI has done commendable job in the Bora murder case and filed the charge sheet five days before the deadline.”