The CBI was on Friday directed by a special court in Mumbai to begin arguments on framing of charges in the sensational Sheena Bora murder case from the next date of hearing due in mid-September with the judge saying he will “expedite” the trial.
The direction by a special CBI court came even as the agency submitted there should not be a “parallel trial” in the case after leaked tapes of purported phone conversations involving Rahul and his father Peter Mukerjea, a former media baron, and his stepmother Indrani suggesting an attempt to cover up the murder by the couple surfaced in the media.
The court also extended the judicial custody of key accused Indrani Mukerjea, her husband Peter and her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna till September 13, when the agency is also likely to open their case.
“Prosecutor can argue on framing of charges provided the interest of defense is safeguarded. I will expedite the trial,” Special CBI Judge H S Mahajan said.
Earlier, Special Public prosecutors Bharat Badami and Kavita Patil told the court that the prosecution is ready to open the case in support of framing of charges.
“We are ready to start the trial,” they said.
The prosecutors said that since yesterday media was trying to “snatch words from two CBI witnesses in the case” but did not elaborate or name them.
In this context, they also felt that there should not be a “parallel trial” in the case and that their witnesses need to be protected.
To this, Judge Mahajan said that nobody is taking them (media reports) seriously.
The court also made it clear that none of the parts of the purported tapes on the murder case were leaked from the court. CBI also told the court that there was no leak from their side too.
Though Indrani’s advocate said that they have no objection in starting the trial, the lawyer of Peter told the court that CBI has to make a statement that their investigation is over and then let them (agency) start arguing on framing of charges.
Peter’s lawyer Mihir Gheewala told the court that the tapes are a vital evidence (in the case) and the manner in which it was aired on news channels, the witnesses could be directly affected.
“It should not cause any prejudice to the witnesses.”
Later, Gheewala also moved an application in the court that it should direct the CBI to take all necessary steps to prevent the potential evidence, documents, witnesses statements and material produced by CBI in its chargesheet from being used in the media without permission of the court.
Referring to reports of the leaked tapes, the court said if the CBI feels that anybody is doing intentionally then it can go ahead and take action against them (media).
The CBI made it clear that certain audio clips related to the murder case had already been taken note off and formed “integral part’ of its charge sheet in the case.
Reacting to all the audio tapes being played or referred to in certain news channels, a CBI spokesperson in Delhi said these clips have already been fully investigated by agency.