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The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected the bail application filed by Jail Superintendent Manisha Pokharkar and five other jail officials accused of murdering a Byculla jail inmate Manjula Shetye on June 23, 2017.
While rejecting the bail plea, Justice Revati Mohite Dere observed that the trial is in progress at the lower court and that the three witnesses, who are inmates, have already deposed before the court. The Court said that if the accused are released on bail, they can influence the other witnesses and impact the trial.
Jailor Manisha Pokharkar and constables Bindu Naikade, Vasima Shaikh, Sheetal Shegokar, Surekha Gulve, and Aarti Shingne were arrested by the Mumbai Police for alleged custodial murder on July 1, 2017.
Manjula Shetye had been given the charge of warden at the Byculla jail. She was responsible for the distribution of rations. Shetye and her mother had been convicted and sentenced to life for the murder of her sister-in-law. Her mother had passed away while in jail. Byculla jail is the only prison for women in the city.
After Shetya fell unconscious at the Byculla jail, she was taken to the JJ Hospital. On June 23, 2017, she was declared dead. A Byculla prison inmate, Mariam Shaikh, had filed a complaint against the Manisha Pokharkar and her five subordinates, accusing them of brutally assaulting and killing Shetye.
In the bail application, Pokharkar and her subordinates claimed that Shetye’s death was a result of her taking ill.
Earlier, while seeking bail before the trial court, the six accused had claimed that they have been falsely implicated for Shetye’s death. Further, they alleged that Indrani Mukerjea – accused of having murdered her daughter, Sheena Bora – and an inmate at the Byculla jail, had conspired to create the false case in order to gain advantage and settle scores with the jail staff. The trial court, however, rejected their bail application.