Mumbai HC halts release of docu-series on Indrani till Feb 29; orders special screening for CBI


PTI, Feb 22, 2024, 1:03 PM IST

OTT platform Netflix on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that it would not release the documentary series on Indrani Mukerjea, who is facing trial for allegedly killing her daughter Sheena Bora, till February 29.

A division bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande directed the makers of the series to hold a special screening of the series for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the prosecuting agency.

The docu-series, titled ‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: The Buried Truth’, delves into the disappearance of 25-year-old Bora and was scheduled to premiere on streaming platform Netflix on February 23 (Friday).

The CBI had filed a petition in the high court, seeking a stay on its release till the trial in the case is complete. The bench on Thursday sought to know from the makers of the series if it was willing to hold a screening of the series for the CBI. “Why should the CBI not be allowed to see the series. What is the difficulty in sharing the docu-series?” the court asked.

While an accused has rights, even the prosecution and victim in a case have rights, it noted. Senior counsel Ravi Kadam, appearing for Netflix, initially opposed and said this would amount to pre-censorship. He added that the CBI ought to have moved the court against the series earlier and should not have waited till the last moment.

The bench, however, said that the trial in the case was still ongoing and statements of witnesses are still being recorded. “It (release of the series) can be deferred for a week…Heavens are not going to fall,” the HC said.

Kadam said the court could also view the series if it wishes to. The bench quipped that it does not have the time to watch series. The court, however, asked the CBI’s advocate Shreeram Shirsat to also watch the series during the special screening.

“What your (CBI) officer may think and perceive is different from a law officer. You (Shirsat) are officer of the court. We are giving you an opportunity to view it,” the court said.

Kadam then made a statement to the bench that till the next hearing of the matter on February 29 the docu-series would not be released on the streaming platform. The court was also informed by Kadam that five witnesses have been interviewed in the series, including Indrani’s son Mikhail (Sheena’s brother) and Vidhie Mukerjea, Indrani’s daughter from Peter Mukerjea.

Kadam said the statements of three witnesses from these five are yet to be recorded by the trial court. The CBI moved the HC after a special court on Tuesday rejected its application against the series. According to the CBI, 89 witnesses out of 237 have been examined so far before the trial court.

Bora was allegedly strangled to death in a car by Indrani, her then driver Shyamvar Rai and former husband Sanjeev Khanna in April 2012. Bora was Indrani’s daughter from her previous relationship. Her body was burnt in a forest in the neighbouring Raigad district.

The murder came to light in 2015 after Rai revealed about the killing following his arrest in another case. Indrani was arrested in August 2015 and granted bail in May 2022. The other accused in the case, Rai, Khanna and Peter Mukerjea, are also out on bail.

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