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Accused has right to get a confessional statement’s copy: HC

The Bombay high court on Friday observed that an accused has the right to get a copy of a confessional statement of a co-accused in a case and asked CBI to file an affidavit in response to a petition filed by Sheena Bora murder case accused Sanjeev Khanna.

Khanna, arrested in connection with the sensational murder of his former wife Indrani Mukerjea’s daughter Sheena, has sought a copy of the confessional statement of Indrani’s former driver Shyamvar Rai, who was recently granted pardon and made an approver in the case.

Justice Sadhana Jadhav observed that an accused has an inherent right to have a copy of the statements of co-accused or witnesses in a case since it will be used as evidence during trial.

“All that he (Khanna) is asking for is a statement recorded under section 164 of CrPC. An accused is entitled to this. They (accused) need to have all this before trial commences against them. It is their inherent right,” Justice Jadhav said.

The remarks were made after CBI lawyer Purnima Kantharia said the agency would give Khanna a copy of the confessional statement, but at a later stage.

“We will give them the statement but not now as investigation is still on. This statement of Rai was recorded recently after the charge sheet was filed as he has recently been allowed to turn approver and granted pardon,” she said.

The court, however, said if the statement has been submitted before the trial court, then it ceases to be a prosecution document and is a public document.

The court granted CBI a week’s time to file its affidavit and posted the petition for hearing on June 30.

Khanna sought the copy of Rai’s statement recorded under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before a magistrate. He approached the high court after the sessions court rejected his application seeking the same.

Apart from Khanna and Rai, key accused Indrani and her husband and former media baron Peter Mukerjea are also in custody for their alleged involvement in the case.

According to the prosecution, Sheena was murdered on April 24, 2012, but the crime came to light after the arrest of Rai in another case in August 2015.

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