Swati.Deshpande@timesgroup.com

Mumbai:

Almost two weeks after his arrest in a rape and extortion case, a city sessions judge on Friday rejected a bail plea by TV actor Karan Oberoi. The bail plea hearing went on almost all week. The judge heard the actor’s lawyer, a prosecutor appointed by the state, and also, as interveners, two lawyers engaged by the first informant, a 34-yearold woman whom he had met first met in 2016 through a mobile dating app.

Oberoi’s lawyer Dinesh Tiwari argued that the FIR was not only “filed belatedly”—since she alleged that the first time was in January 2017 on a “concocted story’’ that he gave her “coconut water to drink making her half-drowsy” and he at the same time “also mentioned marriage to her” while she “never mentions what time she left his house” or that “he promised marriage or proposed to her”.

He picked holes in her FIR of May 4, and said “it inspires no confidence”, adding that the acts were “consensual” but that “she was obsessed with Oberoi” and cited “text messages exchanged between the two” to demonstrate his contention that she was a “happy participant” in “chats between two mature adults”. She wants to destroy him and his custody is unjustified, he contended. “He comes from a respected family of Army officers and is no flight risk if granted bail,’’ he said on Friday, in vain.

The prosecutor, KY Salunke, in a brief reply opposed bail on the grounds that probe was still on and the FIR doesn’t point to any consent by her, but rather alleged that he “asked for money to delete a video of their intimacy”, thus invoking an offence of “extortion”, adding there was “clear-cut demand” five times of gifts and money.

The woman, who in the FIR says she is an “astrologer”, on Friday had advocates Sheetal Pandya and Ali Kaashif Khan argue to oppose bail. Pandya said her “consent was under influence of false marriage promise” and questioned why he had not stopped receiving gifts from her, if his case is of ‘one-sided love’ from her side. Khan said, “Offence attracts life sentence, it has been only 10 days and police have yet to investigate but he is eager for bail and has even applied for return of his laptop and phone from police—gadgets she had gifted him.” Khan said, “All home items were gifted by her. Who would gift unless they were getting married?”

Tiwari, who objected in vain to allowing her second lawyer to argue as well, cited her texts to show she had said “Wanted to create great memories and prepare for change. These are the last few days I have with you”, which he said, “means the relationship was ending”. He implored the court to legally go by “only the FIR which is also silent on her making any payments” and “not what is in the mind of her lawyers’’ for “their interpretation’’. “In this case police are acting like recovery agents…why have they not taken her phones for analysis yet. Can gifts become a subject of criminal investigation?”

The Oshiwarai police had arrested the actor on Sunday. He was sent to judicial custody on May 9. His sister, Gurbani, and couple of friends walked out dejected. Tiwari said later, “We will wait for the order copy.we plan to move Bombay high court for bail.’’ Dindoshi sessions judge S U Baghele, who dictated the operative part of the order in court, said, “A prudent person can understand one-sided love… However, several valuable things given by another person would cause one to think that the applicant as a prudent person cannot be expected to have taken such items unless the relationship between them was a committed relationship…

Karan Oberoi has been a singer and actor since over 25 years now and has acted in several television serials including “Swabhimaan”, “Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin” and “Saaya”. He was one of the vocalists of “A Band of Boys”.