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Bombay High Court refuses bail to businessman Raj Kundra, associate in porn case

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The Bombay High Court on Saturday refused to grant bail to celebrity businessman Raj Kundra and his IT support provider Ryan Thorpe on charges of producing and uploading adult film content on mobile applications like Hotshots.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice AS Gadkari stated that the remand order of July 19 passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate and all orders of subsequent remand in the matter of custody, were in conformity with law.

Kundra, husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, was arrested on July 19 under Sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292 and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides other Sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act. 

He was produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade on July 19, who remanded him to police custody till July 23, which was extended to July 27. The Magistrate later remanded Kundra to judicial custody for 14 days. His bail application was rejected on July 28 by the Magistrate Court.

Kundra’s contentions challenging his custody were:

  • The maximum punishment attracted by the offences alleged against him is upto 7 years;
  • The notice by the police under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was given despite admittedly having no intention to arrest Kundra;
  • That it was completely illegal to arrest him without complying with the requirement of law and the guidelines in the Arnesh Kumar judgment and In Re: Contagion.

Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda, appearing for Kundra, had submitted that the reason claimed for adding Section 201 (causing evidence to disappear) of Indian Penal Code as a charge against his client was an afterthought to meet the requirements to tackle this petition.

He argued that the contentions of Mumbai Police seeking his custody and extension of custody changed with each remand, and were not consistent. Further, there was nothing on record to show that the evidence had been deleted when there was a panchnama made, Ponda added.

Chief Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai, appearing for Mumbai Police, opposed the plea, stating that Kundra had been arrested only because he had refused to acknowledge the notice under Section 41A CrPC, which implied that there was no intention to co-operate from his end.

She added that Kundra was arrested because he was trying to destroy or had already destroyed some of the evidence that the agency was trying to recover.

Also Read: A father doesn’t own his daughter: Delhi HC dismisses man’s plea directing his daughter to use his surname, not his wife’s

She also argued that the investigating agency could not have stood there as ‘mute spectators,’ while evidence was being destroyed, as that would have ruined the purpose of investigation.

She concluded by pointing out that the evidence collected against Kundra had been considered by the Magistrate before he passed his orders remanding Kundra to custody.

Kundra has also approached the Mumbai Sessions Court seeking bail after the Magistrate Court rejected his bail plea. The Sessions Court had issued notice and will hear his plea on August 10.

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