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Court Rejects CBI's Plea To Halt Netflix Documentary On Indrani Mukerjea

A special court rejects the Central Bureau of Investigation's plea to halt the premiere of Netflix documentary 'The Indrani Mukerjea Story' on the Sheena Bora murder case.

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Indrani Mukerjea
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A special court here on Tuesday rejected a plea moved by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking a stay on the broadcast of a documentary series on Indrani Mukerjea, a prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, citing that it does not have "inherent powers" to pass such a direction.

CBI special judge S P Naik-Nimbalkar said the probe agency could approach an appropriate legal remedy if advised.

The judge held that the prosecution had not brought to his notice any legal provision for such directions.The docu-series, titled ‘The Indrani Mukerjea Story: The Buried Truth’, delves into the disappearance of 25-year-old Bora and is scheduled to premiere on streaming platform Netflix on February 23.

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In its application filed through public prosecutor C J Nandode, the CBI had asked the court “to issue direction to accused and others concerned for staying/stopping the featuring of the accused persons and the persons connected with the case in the documentary by Netflix and its broadcasting on any platform till the conclusion of the ongoing trial”.

The probe agency on Tuesday argued that the documentary, with its promotional claims of "new revelations" without providing evidence, can create a prejudicial atmosphere and mislead the public, especially prosecution witnesses when the case is pending trial before the court and is at the crucial stage of prosecution evidence. It further submitted that the motive to feature in the documentary and its release is malafide.

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The CBI claimed that this posed a direct threat to the safety and protection of witnesses by potentially disclosing their identities, compromising their security, and deterring them from giving truthful testimony.

Advocate Abad Ponda, appearing for Netflix, contended that only the high courts and the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to pass a direction on such a plea. He submitted that the provisions of witness protection are available in TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) and Maharashtra Protection of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) matters and not in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The judge, after hearing both sides, held that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) has the remedy for the exigency of the situation, for which the CBI has called upon his court to invoke its inherent power, "which I fear is not vested with this court".

The Supreme Court had granted bail to Indrani and laid down certain conditions for her release. However, the CBI has not contended that she has violated the bail conditions, the court said. "As there is no legal provision brought to my notice and as this court has no inherent power to pass any such order, the application is rejected," the court said.

The CBI may take the recourse to appropriate legal remedy if advised, it added. Bora was allegedly strangled to death in a car by Indrani, her then driver Shyamvar Rai and former husband Sanjeev Khanna in April 2012.

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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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