Observing that an accused person, especially one charged with a “serious offence” has a “statutory right to be apprised of every material that will be used against him by the prosecution,” the Bombay high court on Thursday directed the CBI court to handover the confessional statement of Shyamvar Rai to Sanjeev Khanna and all others accused in the Sheena Bora murder case.
Rai, who used to work as a driver for prime accused Indrani Mukherjea, recently turned approver in the case, and was granted pardon by the court.
Khanna had moved an application in the HC after the CBI court denied his request for a copy of Rai’s statement that was recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code on November 6 last year.
The special court had said since the prosecution was not relying upon the statement, Khanna needn’t be given a copy.
Justice Sadhna Jadhav, who was presiding over Khanna’s plea in the HC, however, said the special CBI court’s observation was “not proper.”
She said now that Rai had turned approver, and thus, a prosecution witness, it was clear that the CBI would use his statement as evidence and Khanna thus, had a right to know what had been said for or against him.
Justice Jadhav also directed the CBI to attach a copy of the statement with the first charge sheet filed in the case.
“While the prosecution has said it does not intend to withhold the statement from Khanna, it has said it will release it only at a proper stage. This can’t be accepted. Every accused has a right to access the evidence against him and this court must follow the statutes. At the stage of commence of trial, the accused is called upon to either accept or deny the charges against him. At this stage, he must know of all material being used against him by the prosecution. Thus, the CBI as well as the special court has no reason to withhold the statement,” she said.
On April 24, 2012, Peter Mukerjea’s wife Indrani, Khanna and Rai had allegedly strangulated Indrani’s daughter Sheena Bora, and later disposed her body in a thickly forested area in Gagode village of Raigad district, according to the Khar police.
The murder came to light after the arrest of driver Rai by Khar police in an arms act case. Indrani was arrested on August 25 last year in the murder case. Later, the CBI arrested Peter.