Raj Kundra had, in his plea, alleged that his arrest was illegal. (HT FILE)
Raj Kundra had, in his plea, alleged that his arrest was illegal. (HT FILE)

Bombay HC reserves order on Raj Kundra’s plea against arrest in porn film case

The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday concluded the hearing of the petition filed by businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe wherein they alleged that the Mumbai Police had arrested them illegally. The court reserved its orders, which will be pronounced in due course.
By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON AUG 03, 2021 12:49 AM IST

The Bombay high court (HC) on Monday concluded the hearing of the petition filed by businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe wherein they alleged that the Mumbai Police had arrested them illegally. While Kundra claimed the police did not serve him notices as mandated under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the counsel for Thorpe submitted that he was arrested despite cooperating with investigators.

The counsel for the police, however, submitted that as both Kundra and Thorpe had been found deleting evidence, the police could not be mute spectators, and hence to prevent further destruction of evidence the duo were arrested. The court was also informed that though Kundra was a British citizen he had secured an Aadhaar card and was conducting his activities.

The single judge bench of justice AS Gadkari, while hearing Kundra’s plea, was informed by senior advocate Aabad Ponda that though Kundra was not named in the first information report (FIR), the police searched his office and asked him to be present at the crime branch’s office at Byculla. However, when he went there, he was arrested without being served a notice which is in violation of laws safeguarding a person from arrest when the offence carries less than seven years of imprisonment.

Chief public prosecutor Aruna Pai submitted that the arrest was not illegal as the police found both Kundra and Thorpe deleting WhatsApp chats and other information that can serve as incriminating evidence against the duo. She said the police had recovered 68 pornographic movies along with material from personal laptops, cell phones apart from the 51 videos found on Storage Area Network (SAN). Pai added that a PowerPoint presentation with details of the working and marketing strategy of Hotshots app were also recovered during the search at Kundra’s office.

She also refuted the claims of illegal arrest and said that both had been served notices, but only Thorpe had accepted it.

While claiming that section 201 (punishment for causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was added by the police as an afterthought when the petition was filed, Ponda said, “There is no contemporaneous record to show deletion, rather there are contemporaneous records to say non-deletion of data by accused. This is thus an afterthought and has been made to meet the requirement to tackle this petition.”

Ponda added that if the police had found Kundra deleting data, they should have mentioned it in the panchnama or first remand, but it was not the case. He said there was no material to show that Kundra deleted the data on the night of his arrest on July 19. He further said the police had acted with vendetta as Kundra had refused to acknowledge its notice under section 41A of CrPC.

Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, for Thorpe, concurred with Ponda’s arguments and said while his client had acknowledged the police notice, he was not given an opportunity to comply with the same, and therefore his arrest was illegal. He added there were doubts regarding the investigation as there were discrepancies as to the date of deletion of the videos in question as well.

The court then concluded the hearing and reserved its orders, which will be pronounced in due course.

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