Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday granted bail to former media baron Peter Mukerjea in the 2012 Sheena Bora murder case, in which his former wife Indrani Mukerjea is the prime accused. Peter will have to pay Rs 2 lakhs as surety to the court, surrender his passport and also stay away from his son Rahul, daughter Vidhi and other witnesses in the case.
The high court, however, has stayed its order for six weeks as the CBI wants to file an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging grant of bail to Peter.
Justice Nitin Sambre, hearing the bail application by Peter, noted: “Prima facie there was no evidence of his involvement in the crime. When the murder took place, at that time Peter was in London.”
The court also took note of his jail term and his health condition while granting bail. The court said: “He has undergone a bypass surgery recently and has already spent four years in jail.” “Except for the statement of the approver – Indrani’s former driver Shyamwar Rai — in the case, there is no reference to Peter Mukerjea in any evidence. There is no other evidence to show his involvement in the conspiracy,” the court said.
Justice Sambre noted the CBI had hinted at the direct involvement of Indrani Mukerjea and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna in the murder. “There is also no explanation given by the CBI on why Peter Mukerjea was implicated as an accused in the case six months after the arrest of Indrani and Khanna,” the court said.
The court also refused to accept the prosecution’s argument that Peter conspired to kill Sheena Bora as he was unhappy with the relationship between her and his son Rahul. “This court has perused various emails exchanged between the applicant and Rahul Mukerjea. It is difficult to infer that there was any criminal intent on the part of Peter Mukerjea to indulge in the crime in question,” Justice Sambre said.
“The applicant was only trying to counsel his son, being a responsible father,” the judge added.
According to the CBI, Peter, along with Indrani and Khanna, entered into a criminal conspiracy to kill Bora, her daughter from an earlier relationship. The killing came to light in 2015 when Rai, who helped them dispose of the body, was arrested in another case. Rai later turned approver in the murder case. Indrani and Khanna have been lodged in prison since their arrest in the case in April 2015.