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Court cold water on Shilpa father’s bail

Ahmedabad, May 30: The arrest of actress Shilpa Shetty’s father, Surendra Shetty, appears imminent with a Surat court today rejecting his application for anticipatory bail in an extortion case.

Soon after additional district and sessions judge K.M. Vin gave the order, a team of Surat police left for Mumbai to arrest Surendra. His lawyer, S.V. Raju, plans to move the high court on Monday for bail.

The Surat court upheld the prosecution’s argument that there was prima facie evidence against Surendra and that he should be interrogated in custody. The bail application was admitted to the district court last Monday.

Surat police had issued arrest warrants against Surendra and his wife Sunanda on April 30 on the basis of an FIR filed by the owner of Prafful Sarees, Pankaj Agarwal, who claimed the Shettys were trying to extort money from him.

The Shettys had allegedly hired a gangster to “recover Rs 80 lakh’’ from Agarwal, an amount they claim was due to their daughter who had done an advertisement campaign for the sari brand five years ago. The ad was run by Prafful Sarees on television channels for several years beyond the agreed period of one year.

Warrants were also issued against Malaysia-based don Fazlur Rehman and his associates Dinesh Shetty alias Irfan and Uday Shetty alias Imran.

Surendra and Sunanda obtained provisional bail till May 28 and June 12 respectively from a Mumbai court, which ordered them to seek regular bail from the Surat court.

Turning down Surendra’s plea for a 15-day stay on its order to enable him to file an appeal in the high court, the Surat district court today also rejected his plea for extension of the transit bail in Mumbai.

Surendra was not present in court when the order was delivered. His lawyer argued that the alleged verbal threats by the Shettys, through gangsters, with a demand for Rs 2 crore did not amount to extortion and there was no prima facie evidence against them.

But the judge said there was prima facie evidence against the accused. Dinesh Shetty, who is in custody, has told the police that Shilpa’s father had approached them to extort money from Agarwal.

The police have released tapes in which threats have been made on behalf of the actress to the owner of Prafful Sarees to pay up or face appropriate action by the don.

The Shettys have denied all the allegations, pointing out a “tape can be tampered with, it can be manufactured and it can be fabricated”.

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