Mumbai, September 8, 2015
Hours after Mr. Rakesh Maria was promoted and shifted from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner today, the Maharashtra government said this evening that the officer, now the Director General of Police, Home Guards, would continue to monitor the investigations into the Sheena Bora murder case.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K P Bakshi said the government had decided that, in view of the fact that most of the investigation had already been completed, it would be proper to allow Mr Maria to continue to monitor the case though he had been elevated and transferred to another position.
Mr Bakshi told television channels that "monitoring" would include "everything", including giving directions to the investigating officers, putting the evidence together and filing of chargesheets.
Asked if the arrangement would not lead to confusion, Mr. Bakshi said there were many instances where the investigation of a particular case was entrusted to an officer other than the Police Commissioner.
Earlier in the day, the government had announced the appointment of Mr Ahmed Javed, who was the Director General of Police, Home Guards, as the new Police Commissioner in place of Mr Maria.
The sudden transfer of Mr Maria caused eyebrows to be raised, but the government insisted it had nothing to do with the Sheena Bora case, which has dominated the media for nearly two weeks now.
Mr Maria was personally involved in the investigations and had briefed newspersons even yesterday evening about progress made in the case.
The state government, however, denied any suggestions that he had been shifted because it was dissatisfied with the manner in which the probe was being conducted. It said the changes were made in view of the coming Ganesh Chaturthi festival and the law and order factors for the festive season.
"Mr. Maria has been promoted to the director general rank and posted as the DG of Home Guards in Mumbai in place of Mr. Ahmed Javed. Mr. Javed (who was DG-Home Guards) becomes the new CP of Mumbai," Mr. Bakshi had told journalists during the day.
He said that post of Mumbai police commissioner had been upgraded to the rank of director general to enable Mr Javed to take over the position. Mr. Maria was holding the post of Police Commission in the rank of additional director general. Both officers belong to the 1981 batch of the Indian Police Service (IPS).
Mr. Bakshi said the transfer was not a sudden move and that it had been under consideration for at least two or three weeks. He said the matter of Mr. Maria's transfer and promotion had also been discussed with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and senior officers.
The changes took place with immediate effect and Mr Javed told newspersons that the investigation into the Sheena Bora case would continue apace and that all angles, including the financial aspects, would be probed.
Mr Maria, 58, had been closely associated with the investigations into the case in which Ms Indrani Mukerjea, wife of media moghul Peter Mukerjea, has been arrested in connection with the April 2012 murder of Sheena, her daughter. Her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and her driver Shyam Rai have also been arrested in connection with the murder and all three are currently in judicial custody.
Mr. Maria had, among others, interrogated Ms. Mukerjea and others connected with the case.
Ms Mukerjee was arrested here on August 25, while Khanna was arrested in Kolkata the following day. According to the police, Sheena, who was until then believed to be Indrani's sister, was strangulated to death on April 24, 2012 and her body was also set on fire.
The charred remains were recovered a month later, on May 23, 2012 by the police in Raigad district of Maharashtra but they could not be identified and the case had remained unsolved.
Mr. Mukerjea had told journalists after his wife's arrest that he had always been given the impression that Sheena was her sister and was unaware until then that she was her daughter.
He also acknowledged that Sheena had been in a relationship with his son from a previous marriage, but Ms. Mukerjea and her family did not approve of it. He said he was told that the family was against the relationship and had decided to send Sheena to the United States. He said he had not been in touch with her after that.
He said he was shown some pictures of Sheena, said to have been taken in the US, and he did not raise any doubts though his son had told him on a few occasions that she was not in the US.
Police sources said Ms Mukerjea had, during interrogation, admitted that Sheena was her own daughter from a previous relationship.
Police said they stumbled upon the murder when they arrested the Mukerjeas' driver Rai on a tip-off and found him in possession of a pistol on August 21. He told the police about the murder and led them to the spot where her body had been dumped, they said.