The Bombay High Court on Saturday granted bail to Shyamvar Rai, an accused turned approver in the 2012 murder case of Sheena Bora. Rai was Sheena’s mother Indrani Mukerjea’s driver, who allegedly drove the two, along with Indrani’s former husband Sanjeev Khanna, outside the city limits on the day of the murder.
Rai had approached the HC seeking bail after Indrani and Khanna were granted bail by the Supreme Court and the High Court, respectively.
On May 18, the SC granted bail to Indrani observing that she has been in custody for over six years, which is “too long a time” and also that the trial is not likely to conclude soon. On June 21, Justice Bharti Dangre had granted bail to Khanna against personal bond of Rs 1 lakh, on parity. Indrani’s former husband, Peter Mukerjea, had got bail from the HC in 2020.
On Saturday, while granting bail to Rai, Justice Dangre relied on the SC order and her earlier order, noting that Rai had been languishing in prison since August 2015. The court has not specified the bail amount. However, the conditions include surrendering the passport (in case it was not seized) and not leaving the country without permission of the CBI court.
Sandesh Patil and Chintan Shah, counsels for the CBI, had opposed Rai’s bail plea, stating that he was an approver in the case under section 306 (4 )(a) (tender of pardon to accomplice) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. They argued that there is a bar under the section from releasing an approver.
However, Rai’s advocate, Sumant Deshpande, relied on a 1997 SC judgement, which had held that the embargo will apply where pardon is granted by the magistrate before the case is committed to the sessions court for trial. In Rai’s case, after the case was committed to the sessions court, the sessions judge had granted him pardon under section 307 (pardon by sessions judge) CrPC. Hence there is no embargo to release him on bail.
As per the prosecution’s case, Indrani conspired with her then husband Peter Mukerjea and ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and killed her daughter Sheena with the help of her then driver Shyamvar Rai. Sheena was allegedly drugged and strangulated in a car by Indrani and Khanna and her body disposed of in a suitcase in Pen area of Raigad district. Indrani was arrested in 2015 and chargesheeted as an accused.