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Indrani Mukerjea tells court she wants to cross-examine Rahul Mukerjea

Mumbai: Former INX Media chief executive officer Indrani Mukerjea, who is facing trial for allegedly killing her daughter Sheena Bora, on Saturday informed the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court that she wants to personally cross-examine Rahul Mukerjea, the son of her ex-husband Peter Mukerjea from his first wife.

After Rahul’s examination-in-chief was over on Saturday, Indrani informed the court that she wanted to cross-examine Rahul.

“Why do you want to cross-examine him on your own when you are legally represented? Do you know the law or are you a law graduate? Would you be able to understand technicalities,” the court asked.

Indrani, however, remained firm on her decision saying that in the past six years she has done a lot of study on this and had also seen a lot of people cross-examine witnesses in person.

Indrani added that in August last year she had moved an application, stating that she was discharging her legal team and would cross-examine the rest of the witnesses on her own and the plea was yet to be decided.

“Does this mean you are forfeiting the right of legal assistance? What about your lawyer? She will have to give no objection in writing,” the court questioned and asked her to file a formal application stating that she would cross-examine Rahul on her own.

The court has posted the matter for hearing her plea on Wednesday when the court is also likely to decide if the contents of the CD containing Rahul’s telephonic conversations with various persons could be taken on record of the case.

The special CBI court on Saturday refused to accept the tapes as part of proven evidence after the defence lawyers pointed out procedural lapses in presenting the audio recording before the court.

The prosecution on Saturday again played the audio clips of Rahul’s telephonic conversations with his father, Peter Mukerjea, and Indrani, recorded by Rahul after Sheena Bora abruptly disappeared on April 24, 2012.

Rahul had later submitted the recordings to the Khar police station, where an FIR was registered in connection with Sheena’s murder. The police later copied the contents on a CD which was presented by the CBI as one of the crucial pieces of evidence in the murder case.

After the prosecution finished playing the tapes, the prosecutor requested the court to mark the CD containing all the audio as proven evidence.

Defence lawyers, advocate Manjula Rao, who represented Peter, and advocate Niranjan Mundargi, who represented Indrani’s ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna, objected to the plea. “The procedure for proving contents of a CD is laid down in the criminal manual and no such procedure was followed in this case,” Mundargi argued and also pointed out that no certificate or authentication to validate the contents of the CD were furnished by the prosecution.

The court found force in his submissions after noticing that the prosecution had not even prepared a transcript of the audio recordings and asked the prosecution to prepare a transcript and submit it to the court.

After brief arguments, CBI formally moved an application pleading that the contents of the CD be considered as proven, as the same had been confronted and confirmed by Rahul during his examination-in-chief.

The court will now hear both sides on the admissibility of the CD as evidence on Wednesday.

The CD containing audio clips of Rahul’s conversation with the two accused in the case is considered an important piece of evidence, especially because the CBI has claimed that after Sheena’s alleged disappearance, Indrani and Peter allegedly mislead Rahul about her whereabouts and also tried to convince him that she was alive.


    Charul Shah is senior reporter covering the legal beat for Hindustan Times. She has spent over a decade in the industry covering criminal investigations and judiciary from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru.
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