After being released on bail in the murder case of her daughter Sheena Bora, former media executive Indrani Mukerjea has approached the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of another criminal case against her for rioting in Byculla Prison and obstructing police in its duty.
After being in prison for six-and-half-years, Indrani was released from prison on May 19 after the Supreme Court ordered her bail the previous day.
On June 24, 2017, a first information report (FIR) was registered by the Nagpada police following a rioting after an inmate, Manjula Shette, 31, was beaten allegedly by jail officials and died, in the Byculla Women’s prison where she was lodged. Indrani was charged with inciting inmates to shout and throw plates and pots at the police officers. She was accused of using criminal force against a police officer on duty, criminal intimidation, abetment, rioting, criminal conspiracy and for offence under the Prevention to Damage to Public property.
Her plea states that the FIR was registered against her “with a pure motive of harassing and torturing”.
Citing the FIR, the petition says that it is alleged that one of the co-accused broke the prison door and smashed it to pieces and injured the complainant and other prison staff and damaged government property. The FIR alleged that when officers attempted to stop women prisoners from throwing their trays, bowls and other items at the security wall, the inmates climbed the second floor of the barrack and threw items at the police officers.
“The Prison Jailor Manisha Pokharkar allegedly thrashed the deceased Manjula Shette and brutally killed her and a baton was inserted into her private parts due to which Petitioner (Indrani) along with other inmates wanted a strict action and prompt registration of FIR against the Prison Authorities responsible for the death of the deceased inmate,” alleges her petition.
Seeking quashing of the FIR, her plea states that she was neither a part of the alleged attack nor was she involved in creating any unnecessary nuisance in the prison. Besides, “bogus, general and vague allegations’’ have been levelled against her and “no overt act or specific role has been attributed” to her, adds her plea.
Alleging that she was not even aware of the rioting FIR filed against her until the police filed the chargesheet in the case on August 5, 2021, as her statement has not been recorded for the same. All witnesses in the case are interested witnesses and “no independent witnesses’’ are there in the case, she has claimed.
Indrani has said that she too was hurt as she was hit by a blunt object used by prison officials and she was also verbally abused by the prison superintendent and threatened. The FIR is a move to restrain her from becoming a witness in Shette's custodial death case, adds her plea.
Five Byculla Jail Constables and Jail warden Manisha Pokharkar were arrested for allegedly killing Shette and are at presently lodged at the Taloja jail. The Superintendent Indulkar and Senior Jailor were suspended from their duty.
The HC is expected to hear the petition later this week.