Indrani Mukerjea
Indrani Mukerjea

Mumbai: The CBI was in a tearing hurry to pick up former finance minister P Chidambaram but proving charges against him is not going to be a cakewalk for the prosecution.

The agency has relied extensively on the statements of Indrani Mukherjea, an accused-turned-approver, but legal luminaries feel her "tainted" evidence may not be sufficient to get Chidambaram convicted. 

Notably, Indrani, who was initially named as an accused in the INX Media case, has offered to be an approver in the same case against Chidambaram; somewhat like her former driver who has turned an approver against her in daughter Sheena Bora's murder case.

Ironically, his testimony has helped the prosecution build a strong case against her, though she claims to be innocent.

According to Supreme Court advocate Aman Hingorani, the CBI's reliance on Indrani's statements cannot be the sole ground for convicting Chidambaram. 

"The fact that she is facing a grave charge like murder cannot be disregarded. Thus, her evidence would be tainted evidence," Hingorani said. 

"Now, since her evidence is tainted, the prosecution cannot rely on it extensively. Even the court cannot convict Chidambaram only on the basis of her statements. Her statements, at the most, can be only used for corroborating other material on record," Hingorani explained. 

As per the top court advocate, all eyes would be on the judge, who deals with the case. "It would entirely depend upon the judge, as to how much importance he gives to this ‘tainted’ evidence of Indrani," Hingorani said. 

He further explained that the judge would consider Indrani's evidence, weigh it against her conduct, the charges she is facing in the Sheena Bora case, and accordingly use his discretion in relying on her evidence.

Similar was the opinion of Justice (retd.) Abhay Thipsay, who said Indrani's testimony is admissible in law but only if it is corroborated by someone else's evidence. 

"Theoretically, an approver's evidence can be used to prosecute someone; but, in practice, such evidence must be substantiated or corroborated by someone else," Justice Thipsay said. 

"The court has to first consider how much importance the investigating agency is giving to her statements and then decide how reliable her evidence is.

Sometimes it happens that the agency arrests others only on basis of suspicion or such evidence adduced by approver or co-accused. But at the end of the day, it would be for the court to decide whether to rely on her testimony or not," Justice Thipsay added.

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