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Pratyusha case: HC turns down mother's plea for Crime Branch probe

Noting that the city police is conducting a "fair and proper" probe into the alleged suicide of TV star Pratyusha Banerjee, the Bombay High Court today turned down the plea of the actress' mother Shoma Banerjee for transfer of the case to the Crime Branch

Pratyusha case: HC turns down mothers plea for Crime Branch probe
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Pratyusha Banerjee

Mumbai

The court, however, kept pending Shoma's petition and directed the suburban Bangur Nagar police to file a progress report on the probe on May 4 before it.

"After perusing the records and investigation papers we are of the view that there is no need to transfer probe to any other agency. We do not feel that the police is doing any unfair or improper investigation as alleged by the petitioner (Shoma). We also do not think that the police is showing any favour to the accused (Pratyusha's partner Rahul Raj Singh)," a division bench of justices N H Patil and A M Badar said.

"The police is on the right track. Any investigation requires time. Especially in such cases where there is no direct evidence there is more pressure on the police. The investigation is at a sensitive stage," the court said.

The bench also noted that the Deputy Commissioner of Police concerned is supervising the probe.

Picking holes in the ongoing probe, Shoma's lawyer K T Thomas said, "The investigation being done by the local police is misleading and we fear that in future it would be scuttled" and sought transfer of the case to the crime branch under the supervision of the Commissioner of Police.

He further said that Shoma had told the police that she fears that her daughter was "murdered".

Public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde, however, argued that Shoma in her first statement to the police on April 2 said she did not have any suspicion on anyone. "Only on April 5, the police received a complaint from the actress' parents against Rahul," Shinde said.

He said the police had already recorded the statements of 26 witnesses including the deceased's relatives, friends, neighbours, maids and bank managers where the deceased had accounts.

"Two mobile phones belonging to the Pratyusha and one belonging to the accused Rahul has been seized by the police and sent to the forensic lab. The postmortem report suggests ligature marks on the deceased's neck but the exact cause of death will be revealed only after we get the viscera report," Shinde said.

The prosecutor also told the court that Pratyusha was pregnant. "According to our probe, Pratyusha had approached one Dr Shinde for treatment. We will record this doctor's statement to ascertain what treatment she had undergone and if she had taken any medicines from him," Shinde said.

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