The first clue that led to the cracking of the Sheena Bora murder case — the arrest of prime accused Indrani Mukerjea’s driver for illegal possession of Arms — seems to have been forgotten by the Mumbai police. On August 21, Shyamwar Pintu Rai (43), a resident of Vakola was arrested under the Indian Arms Act 1959, for possessing a pistol and three live cartridges. Yet, say city lawyers, this is one aspect of the case that the police have revealed little about. The questions that still remain unanswered are — from where did Rai get the pistol and cartridges and why? Who was the target?
On Saturday, 12 days after his arrest, Shyamvar Rai engaged a lawyer. No one represented him at earlier hearings. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
And, now that it’s being said that Rai will turn an approver in the case, what happens to the case registered against him under the Arms Act, which is a cognizable offence, and carries a punishment? Speaking to SUNDAY midday, Advocate SR Mithare, Khanna’s lawyer, said, “It is surprising that the police in its remand application stated that, acting on a tip-off, they picked up Rai from Carter Road. Then, they recovered a pistol and three live cartridges from him, and accordingly registered a case on August 21 under Section 3 and 25 of the Indian Arms Act vide crime register (CR) no 34/2015. It was during the questioning in this case, that Rai confessed to the Sheena murder and, subsequently the other accused were arrested vide CR No. 406/2015 for murder, kidnapping and destroying evidence.”
Pointing that the registration numbers between the two cases see a jump from 34 to 406, at the same police station (Khar), Mithare added, “The crime register saw a huge difference in registering two different offences in a span of four days within the same police station. Also, the police have later added Section 307 (attempt to murder) and 328 (causing hurt by giving poison), in which my client has no role to play. When acting on Mikhail Bora’s complaint against his mother, the police should have registered a separate FIR.” When asked why Mithare did not bring this up in court on Saturday, he said, “The case is still at remand stage and that the same will be brought up before the appropriate court (Sessions Court) during trial.”
When this paper asked a senior police officer about the possibility of a discrepancy in the crime register numbers, he clarified: “All offences which are registered under the Indian Penal Code are recorded in the Crime Register. Cases that are not covered under IPC are reported in the Local Act Cases (Seizing of fire arms, Gambling, action against hawkers, violation of MV Act, Essential Commodity Act etc/ Special Local Act Cases (PETA cases, Atrocity cases etc)”. Meanwhile, a forensic expert said, “Had the police found any fire arms, as they claim, they should have submitted the same to the State Forensics Science Laboratory for conducting detailed ballistics examination — to ascertain if it was fired ever or used in any previous gun shot cases.” An official from FSL, Kalina said, “We haven’t received any weapon for ballistic testing in this case yet from Khar police.”
A senior lawyer, who is monitoring the developments in case, requesting anonymity said, “It is important to know from where and how Rai procured the firearms and the live cartridges. Was he acting as a courier to deliver the same to any organized crime member? These are serious questions which the police should get answers for."
This also means that even if Rai is turned an approver in the case — as he allegedly did not have any role in the murder — he still cannot escape punishment, as he will face trial under the Arms Act, for which a separate FIR is already registered.
Advocate Rohini Salian, senior public prosecutor for the state of Maharashtra, said, “Under the Indian Arms Act, the accused (Rai) if proved guilty, will still have to undergo minimum imprisonment of one year and maximum of three years.”
Senior Police Inspector of Khar Police Station, Dattatray Pandurang Bhargude, said, “I am in a meeting and cannot speak.”