On Raj Kundra's plea challenging arrest, cops tell court evidence destroyed
The Mumbai Police on Monday told the Bombay high court that businessman Raj Kundra, who was arrested on charges of producing and streaming pornographic content, deleted evidence, including WhatsApp chats. The police's submission came on a petition filed by Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe challenging their arrest.
"They (Kundra and Thorpe) were found deleting certain WhatsApp chats. The attitude of the applicant Raj Kundra speaks volume of his cooperation in the investigation. We do not know how much data has been deleted. The police are still trying to retrieve it," public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai said.
She further told the court that Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code (on destruction of evidence) was subsequently invoked against both the accused. “If accused persons are destroying evidence, then can the investigating agency be a mute spectator?” Pai asked.
Kundra's lawyer, however, refuted the claim of destruction of evidence saying all the devices of businessman, including his phone and laptops, were seized by the police during the search.
Kundra and Thorpe have termed their arrests as illegal, contending mandatory provision of issuing notices to them under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was not followed. They sought the high court to direct for their immediate release and quash two orders passed by a magistrate after their arrest remanding them in police custody.
But the public prosecutor told the single bench of Justice AS Gadkari that notices were indeed issued to both Kundra and Thorpe before their arrest. "Kundra refused to accept it while Thorpe accepted it," Pai said. Thorpe's counsel Abhinav Chandrachud argued that while a notice was issued to Thorpe, he was not given time to comply or respond to it.
The public prosecutor further told the court that from Kundra's laptop, the police recovered scripts with sexual content and a presentation on the financial projection and marketing strategy of HotShots and another similar app BollyFame.
The duo is in jail under judicial custody. While Kundra was arrested on July 19, Thorpe was arrested the next day. Kundra told the high court in his petition that the material which the police claimed to be pornographic did not depict explicit sexual acts but shows material in the form of short movies "which are lascivious or appeal to the prurient interest of persons at best".
After the lawyers concluded their arguments, the high court reserved its order on the petitions.