Updated: August 8, 2021 8:15:43 am
The Bombay High Court Saturday dismissed pleas by businessman Raj Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe, who challenged their remand orders, passed by the magistrate court in the adult films case, and sought release from custody.
The court had reserved its verdict on August 2 after Kundra alleged 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. Kundra and Thorpe sought interim bail and the case to be quashed.
A single-judge bench of Justice A S Gadkari was hearing Kundra’s plea that stated that he was not been named in the FIR. It also alleged that as police were to search his office, he was directed to remain present at the crime branch office.
Mumbai Police, through chief public prosecutor Aruna Pai, 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 have been 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 the police arrested them to prevent it.
Pai also said the duo and their IT technician had duly been served a notice under Section 41A, mandating their appearance before a police officer to avoid unnecessary arrest under the CrPC. While Thorpe had accepted the notice, Kundra refused, she added.
Appearing for Kundra, senior advocate Aabad Ponda said the new charge, Section 201 (punishment for causing disappearance of evidence) of the IPC, 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 the data, it would have been mentioned in the first remand. He added that there was no evidence to prove that Kundra had deleted the data on the night of his arrest on July 19.
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.
Justice Gadkari in his order noted, “It is thus clear that, at the time of their arrest, the mobile phones of the petitioners were with them… Therefore, their contention that they could not have deleted data necessary for investigation thereby causing disappearance of evidence in presence of 22 police officers at the time of effecting search, has no substance in it.”
The court added, “Refusal to accept notice by Raj Kundra clearly implies that he did not want to participate and co-operate in the process of investigation of the present crime. It appears that the situation was aggravated by the Petitioners when they started deleting incriminating material against them from the mobile phones thereby causing disappearance of evidence.”
The bench held, “The afore stated deliberation would lead to draw a safe conclusion that, the arrest of the petitioners by the investigating officer and their remand to police custody by the impugned Order dated July 20 by Magistrate is within the conformity of the provisions of law. The impugned order does not suffer from any error, which requires this Court to interfere with it…”
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