THE BOMBAY High Court on Monday reserved its order in a plea filed by businessman Raj Kundra, alleging that his arrest in the adult films case was illegal as he was not served any legal notice. Kundra, along with his associate Ryan Thorpe, who has also been arrested, has sought interim bail pending hearing of his plea seeking the case to be quashed.
A bench of Justice A S Gadkari was hearing Kundra’s plea, which stated that he has not been named in the FIR. It alleged that as police were to search his office, he was directed to remain present at the crime branch office. The petition added that he was arrested without being served a notice, in violation of laws safeguarding a person from arrest when the offence carries less than seven years of imprisonment.
Mumbai Police, through chief public prosecutor Aruna Pai, continued its arguments and told the bench that as of now 68 pornographic movies have been seized from the accused along with material from personal laptops, mobile phones and 51 videos found on storage area network (SAN). The accused were enabling streaming porn on mobile phone applications, HotShots and Bollyfame, Pai said.
She added that Kundra and Thorpe had deleted incriminating content from their personal devices and as police could not be a “mute spectator” while the accused were destroying evidence, they had been arrested to prevent the same.
Pai also said Kundra and Thorpe, his IT technician, were duly served a notice under Section 41A, mandating his appearance before a police officer to avoid unnecessary arrest under the Code of Criminal Procedure. While Thorpe accepted the notice, Kundra had refused, she added.
Appearing for Kundra, senior advocate Aabad Ponda said the new charge, Section 201 (punishment for causing disappearance of evidence) under the Indian Penal Code, was added after a petition was filed as an “afterthought” without informing the accused. Ponda denied the charges and said if Kundra had been deleting data, then it would have been mentioned in the panchanama or first remand, but that was not done. He said there was no material to show that he deleted data on the night of his arrest on July 19.
Ponda also said there were 22 police personnel when the arrest panchanama was recorded. “How is it that when Kundra was allegedly deleting the content, that not a single one of them noticed it at the relevant time and did not mention it in the panchanama?” Ponda questioned.
Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, representing Thorpe, adopted Ponda’s arguments and said while his client had acknowledged the police notice, he was not given an opportunity to comply and, therefore, his arrest was illegal and sought relief from the court.
The court then concluded the hearing and reserved the pleas for orders, which it will pronounce in due course.