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Peter Mukherjea’s bail grounds pose new questions

The Bombay High Court’s grant of bail to former electronic media honcho Peter Mukherjea in the Sheena Bora murder case over four years after he was arrested in November, 2015 is puzzling because it has now been revealed by the judge that there is no evidence of his ‘direct’ role in the purported murder of his step-daughter. After all the hype created by the media on the arrest and trial, this comes as a surprise and shows what havoc media glare can play in these times of miscommunication. Justice N.W. Sambre said in his bail order that except for a statement by the approver (Peter’s then wife Indrani Mukherjea’s driver Shyamvar Rai) there is no reference to Peter Mukherjea in any evidence. Also recorded by the judge is the surmise that Peter was not even in India when the incident of Sheena’s purported murder occurred. Sheena was Peter’s then wife Indrani’s daughter from the latter’s earlier marriage to Sanjiv Khanna. Both Indrani and Sanjiv were arrested six months prior to the arrest of Peter for allegedly murdering Sheena. The case is indeed a sad commentary on the high profile cases in which innuendoes and surmises are made routinely and media sensationalism crosses all limits in what becomes trial by the media.

If Peter Mukherjea was incarcerated for four long years without ‘direct’ evidence it is something for the judiciary to ponder about the way the criminal justice system is proceeding. Much was made of Peter’s disapproval of a relationship between Sheena and Rahul (Peter’s son from his first marriage) but that is inadequate to prove his criminal intent as Justice Sambre has pointed out. During incarceration, Peter has even undergone a heart bypass surgery and has had several episodes of illness. There is a six-week stay on Peter’s bail, allowing time for the CBI to contest the bail order. Peter in turn is appealing that the six-week stay on his bail be vacated. It is also intriguing that the first chargesheet in the case made no mention of Peter. Also, that it was in the fifth deposition of the approver that Peter’s name first surfaced. Evidently, there is more to the Sheena Bora case than meets the naked eye. There is need too to analyse why it took four rejected bail applications to come to the conclusion that Peter had no ‘direct’ role in the murder of Sheena Bora. Why such prolonged incarceration when it now transpires that Peter was free of guilt.