Police have reportedly seized 48 terabytes of mostly adult images and videos during a raid on Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty’s home as part of a probe into her husband Raj Kundra’s ongoing pornography case.
According to the Times of India, officers are now seeking to clone Ms. Shetty’s phone and may also bring her in for the second round of questioning.
Her husband, Raj Kundra, 45, was arrested on July 19 in Mumbai by police who said they have ‘sufficient evidence’ that he is a ‘key conspirator’ in a porn production ring.
The report said Mr. Kundra led police officers on Friday to his family home and had his police custody extended until July 27. He has denied all allegations.
Ms. Shetty, 46, told police during questioning on Friday she believed Mr. Kundra was innocent and claimed his co-accused Pradeep Bakshi was the one involved with mobile app ‘HotShots’, which allegedly streamed pornographic content.
She said she was ‘unaware of the exact nature of the content’ on the app, but described it as ‘erotica’ rather than pornography.
Alleged director Tanveer Hashmi, who has denied ever meeting Mr Kundra, described the clips as ‘soft porn… short films of 20-25 minutes, which had nudity’.
Publishing or transmitting ‘obscene’ material including porn is illegal in India under a 2015 law and punishable by up to seven years in jail.
Four of Mr. Kundra’s employees have become witnesses in the case after telling police they were asked to delete clips from Hotspots. The app was reportedly removed from the Google Play Store and Apple Store, but they told police Mr. Kundra launched ‘plan B’ – a second app called Bollyfame.
Investigators are probing whether Mr. Kundra used two or three other apps as part of an adult content production ring.
He is accused of luring women into making a porn film, using the promise of getting them an acting job.
Once the woman agreed to the ‘acting job’ producers would change the script and force them to perform sex acts, police told the Times. If they refused, they were told they had to pay for the shoot, often held in a rented house on the outskirts of the city.
Mr. Hashmi said: ‘I cannot judge anybody and only the law will decide.
‘I cannot comment on it but the only thing is there are several platforms that are making bold content and they are not questioned.’
An investigation into the case was launched on February 3 after a woman complained to the police about being forced to do the movie under false pretences, according to the Press Trust of India.
Nine people, including an actor, producer, and executive, have so far been arrested in the probe.
Police are now investigating if Ms. Shetty benefitted from her husband’s alleged links to the pornographic film business as part of her position as director of his firm, Viaan.
She resigned from the company after the allegations came to light but police are probing if the money generated from adult content ended up in her accounts.
According to Mail Online, the 2007 Celebrity Big Brother star wept during questioning, complaining to police her reputation had been destroyed by the allegations.
Kundra allegedly set up a film company with his brother, registering it in the UK to evade Indian cyber laws.
He reportedly left the company and has denied any wrongdoing, while his lawyer has objected to classifying the content as pornography.
In a court hearing on Thursday, Abad Ponda suggested the content in question did not show sexual intercourse and was just vulgar content.
‘Police is following what web series are doing these days – vulgar content. But that’s not really classified as porn. Nothing in this remand shows that two people actually indulged in act of intercourse. If it’s not actual intercourse, it’s not classified as porn,’ Mr Ponda told the court, according to NDTV.
Model-actress Poonam Pandey has also reportedly filed a case against the businessman and his colleagues, claiming they illegally used her content.
Kundra and his colleagues deny the claims and say they haven’t received any notice until now.