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Pornography case: Mumbai Magistrate declines bail to Raj Kundra

New Delhi: A Mumbai court Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, S.B. Bhajipale, on Wednesday refused to grant bail to businessman Raj Kundra and his associate Ryan Thorpe in the case pertaining to alleged production and distribution of porn content.

Accordingly, Kundra, a British national who was arrested by the Mumbai Police on July 19, will remain in judicial custody till August 10, as ordered by the magistrate court on Tuesday.

Kundra, through senior advocate Abad Ponda, had filed a separate petition in the Bombay High Court challenging his arrest, which he contended was ‘illegal’, and appealed to quash all the orders of the Metropolitan Magistrate Court remanding him to police and then judicial custody.

However, on Tuesday, Justice A.S. Gadkari refused to grant any interim relief to Kundra before hearing the police version in the matter. The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday (July 29).

Kundra is the husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Last week, the police had raided their Juhu home and recorded Shilpa’s statement, even as the case sent shockwaves in Bollywood.

Making a strong plea for bail on Wednesday, Ponda said that the chargesheet has already been filed in the case and invoked grounds of parity saying all the other accused are enlarged on bail.

He contended that some of the other accused have been booked under far more serious charges compared to Kundra, who could face jail term for a maximum of seven years.

Opposing the bail plea, the public prosecutor said that a second FIR has also been registered in the case, the financial audit of Kundra’s companies is yet to be completed and more victims are coming forward with their grievances.

The public prosecutor pointed out that Thorpe is an IT expert who could destroy electronic evidence, and that the accused are “rich and influential people”.

Asking whether the accused (Kundra) “is a terrorist”, Ponda further argued that the accused has a family and his home here, so there is no question of him not being available for investigations, and if an offence does not attract a life term or death penalty, then bail is the norm.

He further informed the court that the possibility of tampering with evidence — as claimed by the prosecution — could be true for all the other accused released on bail, but Kundra cannot flee since the police have taken his passport.

After hearing both the parties, Bhajipale rejected Kundra’s bail plea.

Kundra was arrested by the Mumbai Police and charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code, the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, for allegedly making pornographic content and distributing them through porn apps like HotShots.

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