• LAWGIC STRATUM

The Sheena Bora Murder Case

Author: Aditi Kommareddi





A mother killed her daughter by strangulation, after which the body was set on fire. Initially, it had seemed like every other murder case involving the nation's elite class, but with skeletons coming out of the closet one after the other every day a lot has happened.


Facts of the case:


Sheena Bora was a 24-year-old girlwho had moved to Mumbai and around the time when she had moved, her mother, Indrani had married her husband, Peter Mukerjea. Sheena had later crossed paths with Rahul Mukherjea, one of Peter's two sons from his first marriage. "The duo got close and soon started a relationship, something both Peter and Indrani have publicly stated they were opposed to."[1] Due to this, the relationship between Indrani and her daughter had faltered. Indrani had later contacted Sheena in the pretext of sorting their issues out after their fallout regarding her relationship with Rahul. Indrani had asked Sheena to meet her in front of ashop in Bandra. After agreeing to do so, Sheena was dropped off by Rahul on the evening of 24 April 2012."Indrani met Sheena, took her to the shop, offered her a glass of water that was spiked with a sedative, and took her back to the car. Once the sedative kicked in, and Sheena became visibly drowsy, Indrani instructed Rai, who had already been briefed about the murder on Skype earlier, to take the car to a quiet lane in Bandra, where both Rai and Khanna held Sheena down. At the same time, Indrani strangled her daughter to death."[2]After this, Indrani decided to get rid of the body. She chose to keep it in the back seat of her car outside her apartment in Worli for that night. The trio drove down to Pen, an obscure little town in the Raigad district, early the next morning with their corpses. In a steep drop, they dumped the body and poured an entire can of petrol on it, destroying what she believed was the last evidence.


Rakesh Maria, the Mumbai Police Commissioner,had received an anonymous phone call in 201 and was informed of the fact that Sheena Bora had been missing for the past three years. A report later that day had said that Maria asked PI Dinesh Kadam from the Khar police station to conduct an investigation, he then began turning his suspicions towards Indrani while looking at the case.


During the interrogations, Shyamvar Rai, Indrani's driver confessed to his role in the murder. They told the police that Indrani was behind the murder, and was helped by her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna. The most intriguing issue of this incredibly complex case was that Sheena's murder was only revealed to the police three years after it occurred. A missing persons report had never been filed. Indrani and Peter gave vague and contradictory statements to Rahul and others who would question them regarding where Sheena was.Indrani had allegedly sent Rahul messages from Sheena's phone. She portrayed herself to be Sheena and went on to break off the relationship between Sheena and Rahulby saying that she did not want anything to do with him.


A month had passed, following the murder after which the locals of Raigad had found the remains and had alerted the local police who had disregarded the body and declared it as unclaimed and had further gone on to bury the body without attempting to gather forensic evidence.


The CBI's report claimed that this officer allegedly called RD Shinde, the then Superintendent of Police, District of Raigad, and in charge of the Pen police station, to tell him to drop the case. According to the same article, however, Rakesh Maria revealed, Peter Mukherjea had said to him that he knew there was a plot and something was being planned by Indrani. According to the CBI, the couple allegedly siphoned off funds from their company, 9X Media, worth Rs 900 crore through a layer of nine other businesses. Reportedly, this amount was redirected to Sheena Bora's Singapore HSBC account. Since it was first discovered in 2015, the case has spiralled into unprecedented proportions. Reports regarding their apparent philandering and other scandals started becoming public. In September 2016, Peter Mukherjea's plea to get rid of the framing of charges had been rejected by a special CBI court.


Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukherjea were charged with murder and conspiracy on 17 January 2017, with the trial set to begin on 1 February 2017.

Three charge sheets had been filed in this case:

  • The first charge sheet, filed on 19 November 2015, claimed that the CBI identified Indrani, Khanna, and Rai as the accused in the case. Later on, Rai turned approver. According to investigators, the potential reasons for her murder were Sheena'srelationship with Rahul as well as some financial transactions that would directly impact Indrani and Peter if they were to get married.

  • The second charge-sheet was filed against Peter on 16 February 2016 for his alleged role in the murder of Sheena.

  • The third charge sheet filed by the CBI in October 2016 claimed that Indrani had consulted Sanjeev Khanna about the possibility that if they were married, the entire property would go to Sheena and Rahul. This will mean that none of the property would be obtained by their daughter Vidhie.

Based on the ground that the case was "false and baseless,"Ms. Mukerjea requested bail, and she had nearly 120 documents to support it. Her counsel has argued that no scientific proof existed to show that the murder happened.It was argued that the testimony of witnesses, such as that of her driver, Shyamvar Rai, who became an approver, had many inconsistencies and contradictions.However, the judge said at this stage, the court is unable to conclude that the evidence submitted by Rai has falsified or suffered fatal infirmities as a result of the cross-examination of the witness."


After their arrest in August 2015, Indrani Mukerjea and Sanjeev Khanna have not received bail. However, Peter Mukherjea has received bail after being arrested four and a half years earlier for the murder of his stepdaughter Sheena Bora.


References

[1]Sanjana Ray, The Twists and Turns of Sheena Bora Murder Case,(December 12, 2020),https://www.thequint.com/explainers/sheena-bora-murder-case-story [2]Ibid

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