INX Media co-founder Peter Mukerjea charged with criminal conspiracy and murder by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the killing of his stepdaughter Sheena Bora was produced before the court on Monday. After almost an hour-long argument, Peter was remanded in CBI custody till November 26.
The CBI arrested and charged Peter in the case after a conversation recorded by Rahul Mukerjea, his son from an earlier marriage, led the investigating agency to believe that Peter had been withholding information. Anil Singh, additional solicitor general, who appeared for the CBI, said Sheena’s mobile phone, purse and ATM card are yet to be recovered. The CBI then went on to say that Peter had not yet clarified why he misled Rahul. Peter had allegedly told Rahul that Sheena was doing fine in the US and that he had spoken to her. This revelation led the CBI to question Peter and arrest him on Friday.
The CBI also said Peter had returned to India on April 26, two days after Sheena was killed, and had gone to Goa with Indrani.
The CBI went on to state that Peter had a conversation with Indrani for 20 minutes when he was in Mumbai and for 30 minutes before the incident, and they had tried to access Sheena’s Gmail account but were unsuccessful. The CBI raised doubts about why Peter had made long phone calls to Indrani during the period the murder was committed and why Peter had not called Indrani otherwise.
CBI officers claimed they still had to check records of financial transactions that have happened even outside the city. Amit Desai and Kushal Mor, Peter’s lawyers, argued that the entire transcript of the conversation between Peter and Rahul had been handed over to Mumbai, and that Peter had cooperated with both the Mumbai police and the CBI. The lawyers argued that Peter had even come back from Goa to help the CBI with its investigation.
“What made them arrest him then? Why did they not do it before when they had the records,” said Peter’s lawyers.
Peter lawyers said his financial records were not available, and a chartered accountant had been instructed to provide all information. The only charge against Peter is conspiracy, said Peter’s lawyers. “CBI had three months, and they cannot say that they had only three days,” said his lawyers objecting to custodial interrogation.
They also went on to cite a Supreme Court ruling where “if an accused is available and cooperating, custodial arrest should be avoided”.
Peter’s lawyers contested how the CBI could add his name to a murder case just because he did not tell the CBI about some fixed deposit in the United Kingdom.
Singh then argued that Peter had not come to the CBI office as an accused but as a witness. “When we started the investigation we called him as a witness. But, then we found his involvement. His financial transactions have to be checked; he has made them all over the country and abroad.” Singh went on to say that there is a larger conspiracy and Indrani alone could not have planned it.