After several days of sustained interrogations, Indrani Mukerjea is reported to have admitted that she had murdered her daughter Shee Bora three years ago. This marks a significant progress in the investigation proceedings considering that during the past few days Indrani had been prevaricating and giving misleading answers to most of the questions directed at her. There have even been allegations that police officers had to slap her at times during her interrogations in order to get credible replies. Even now, the police officers connected with her interrogation have been careful to avoid using the word confession, which has legal connotations. Instead, they have claimed that Indrani had admitted to the purported murder. Apparently, an admission of guilt before the police falls under Section 161 of the Crimil Procedure Code (CrPC) and lacks legal sanctity, unless backed by evidence. For any admission to be termed a confession, it has to be made before a magistrate, following which it would fall under the provisions of Section 164 of the CrPC. In any case, the breakthrough is considered significant because Indrani is reported to have held out earlier, in spite of several rounds of questioning. The other mystery that remains to be unravelled is the motive for the murder. According to one source, the motive was money and nothing else. However, this leads to pertinent questions on how money could be the motive since it was Peter Mukerjea and Indrani who had been the principal monetary benefactors of Indrani’s three children Shee, Mikhail and Vidhie. According to one source, Indrani had gifted something like Rs 57 crore to Shee and wanted most of it back when she was faced with a fincial crisis. Shee had apparently refused to return any of the money. One fails to understand how murdering Shee could be a means of getting at her money.
Now that Indrani has admitted having murdered her own daughter, further interrogation should also be able to establish the motive for the killing. However, this may not be as important for the trial as the matching of the D of the mother with that of her murdered daughter from samples taken from the remains of Shee’s body. Once the necessary formalities are completed, it is expected that the law should take its own course, but not as slowly as it does even with crimil cases in India. After all, this is one of the worst recorded instances of a mother killing her own innocent daughter in cold blood. It is a case of Indrani taking not one life but two, since Shee was known to be pregnt when she was murdered. Considering the heinous ture of the crime and the fact that it has evoked tionwide repugnce, it is imperative that the trial is not subjected to the customary law’s delay that has greatly encouraged the perpetration of major crimes during the last three or four decades. We are not as yet aware of the future of capital punishment in India. But as long as it is there, and as long as it is reserved for the most heinous crimes like murder, there is no reason why Indrani and her collaborators in the murder of Shee should escape the hangman’s noose. Unfortutely, in the present case, the Raigad police seem to have functioned in the most irresponsible manner. The purported half-burnt remains of Shee, murdered on April 24, 2012, were found a month later in a forest in Raigad, about 84 km away from Mumbai. The police treated the parts of her body as unclaimed and buried them, instead of initiating a case and starting investigations. Investigations were started only about two years later. Not to speak of delayed justice, we have a classic case of greatly delayed investigations. Obviously, there must be many more cases of buried investigations like this one.