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Updated on: Thursday, July 29, 2021, 07:05 PM IST

FPJ Legal: Raj Kundra and his firm's IT head started destroying evidence from messaging app, Mumbai police to Bombay HC

Mumbai Police's Crime Branch team escort Bollywood actress Shilpa Shettys husband Raj Kundra (L) for allegedly producing and broadcasting pornographic films online, in Mumbai on July 27, 2021.  | (Photo by AFP)

Mumbai Police's Crime Branch team escort Bollywood actress Shilpa Shettys husband Raj Kundra (L) for allegedly producing and broadcasting pornographic films online, in Mumbai on July 27, 2021. | (Photo by AFP)

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Mumbai: The Mumbai police have alleged that the arrested businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra and his IT Head Ryan Thorpe as they recovered incriminating evidence from computers in Kundra’s office and the duo started destroying evidence from messaging app in their mobile phones.

Kundra was arrested on July 19 in a case of creation of pornographic films and publishing them through apps. He had filed petition in the Bombay high court challenging the arrest terming it as illegal. The police filed affidavit in reply to their petition.

An affidavit was filed by police inspector Kiran Bidve attached with the Property Cell of Mumbai police stating that during their search in Kundra’s office on July 19, they found an email from Kenrin Pvt Ltd’s owner Pardeep Bakshi with reference to Hotshots App. Bakshi, Kundra’s brother-in-law, is based in UK and is a wanted accused in this case. “Similarly on the Hotshot app how many customers have subscribed and how many payments are received, the said account details were found. In additioan to this in the computers in reference to Hotshot app obscene and bold picturized videos were found,” states the affidavit.

Police has further alleged that during the search Kundra and Thorpe refused to co-operate and started deleting evidence in terms of WhatsApp groups and chats. “Petitioner (Kundra) and his IT technician Ryan Thorpe also started deleting from the WhatsApp groups and chat thereby causing evidence of the offence to disappear and tamper with such evidence,” reads the affidavit.

The police affidavit states that they followed due process of law but Kundra refused to accept notice under section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code. As per section 41A of the CrPC, the police may issue summons to the accused person and record his/her statement in cases where arrest is not warranted.

However, Kundra’s counsel Aabad Ponda argued that the police had merely given 41A notice as formality and failed to follow proper procedure. He even countered the affidavit saying that the destruction of evidence was added as an afterthought. “There is no whisper of destruction of evidence in the two remand reports before the magistrate and all of a sudden it is there in the affidavit,” argued Ponda.

He stressed on the failure of police to follow section 41A in spirit. “The police went to Kundra’s office with a search warrant in the morning. When he received the information, he immediately reached the office and was there throughout. When he refused to accept the notice, the police immediately arrested him,” argued Ponda.

As per the law, if Kundra refuses to accept the notice, then the police has to go to the magistrate and get an arrest warrant saying that he is refusing to co-operate. “Here, the police did not even wait for a day to see that I comply with the notice. I may not acknowledge the notice, but I could have still gone to the police station on the notified time and date mentioned in it,” argued Ponda.

Abhinav Chandrachud, counsel for Ryan Thorpe, argued that Thorpe had accepted the notice and still he was arrested. “Thorpe accepted the notice. Meaning he would have appeared before the police on the notified date and time before the police. However, they did not even see whether I comply with it and arrested me,” argued Chandrachud.

Echoing Ponda’s arguments, Chandrachud said that there was no mention of destruction of evidence in the two remand reports before the magistrate. “There is a discrepancy in the remand reports and the affidavit,” argued Chandrachud.

The HC will hear the matter on July 31.

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Published on: Thursday, July 29, 2021, 07:05 PM IST
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