Mumbai Court Rejects CBI’s Plea to Halt Docu-Series on ‘Sheena Bora Murder Case’

Sheena Bora Murder

A special court in Mumbai has dismissed a plea filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking to halt the broadcast of a documentary series on Indrani Mukerjea, a key suspect in the Sheena Bora murder case, stating that it lacks “inherent powers” to issue such an order.

CBI special judge S P Naik-Nimbalkar stated that the investigative agency could pursue appropriate legal remedies if advised to do so. The judge noted that the prosecution had not cited any legal provision for such directives.

The documentary series, titled ‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: The Buried Truth,’ explores the disappearance of 25-year-old Bora and is set to premiere on the streaming platform Netflix on February 23.

In its application filed through public prosecutor C J Nandode, the CBI had requested the court “to direct the accused and other relevant parties to halt/stop the featuring of the accused individuals and those connected with the case in the documentary by Netflix and its broadcast on any platform until the conclusion of the ongoing trial.”

The CBI argued that the documentary, with its promotional claims of “new revelations” without substantiating evidence, could create a prejudicial atmosphere and mislead the public, particularly prosecution witnesses, given that the case is pending trial before the court and is currently in a critical stage of presenting prosecution evidence.

Furthermore, the agency asserted that participating in the documentary and its subsequent release are driven by malicious intent. The CBI contended that this poses a direct threat to the safety and protection of witnesses by potentially revealing their identities, compromising their security, and dissuading them from providing truthful testimony.

Advocate Abad Ponda, representing Netflix, argued that only the high courts and the Supreme Court possess jurisdiction to issue directives on such matters. He pointed out that witness protection provisions are available in cases related to TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) and the Maharashtra Protection of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), rather than in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge determined that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) provides a remedy for the urgency of the situation, which the CBI urged the court to invoke its inherent power for, stating that “such authority is not vested with this court.”

The court noted that the Supreme Court had granted bail to Indrani and imposed certain conditions for her release. However, the CBI did not allege any violation of bail conditions by her.

“Since no legal provision has been brought to my attention and this court lacks inherent power to issue any such order, the application is dismissed,” the court declared. It added that the CBI could pursue the appropriate legal recourse if advised.

Bora was purportedly strangled to death in a car by Indrani, her former driver Shyamvar Rai, and ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna in April 2012. Bora was Indrani’s daughter from a previous relationship, and her body was disposed of in a forest in the neighboring Raigad district.

The murder case came to light in 2015 after Rai disclosed the killing following his arrest in another case. Indrani was arrested in August 2015 and was granted bail in May 2022.

The other accused individuals in the case, Rai, Khanna, and Peter Mukerjea, are also out on bail.

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