Court requests footage of police raid on lawyer appearing in riot cases
A Delhi court on Friday ordered the Delhi Police Special Cell to produce all video of the raid on the office of Mehmood Pracha, a lawyer associated with multiple cases in connection with the northeast Delhi riots that he has alleged that the police action was aimed at preventing justice for those affected by the violence.
The court also ordered the Investigating Officer (IO) to submit a status report on the investigations against Pracha, who is being investigated at an FIR in connection with the alleged use of falsified documents in the court file in one of the riot matters. Citing a victim’s statement, the police have also accused Pracha of teaching victims to make false statements in riot-related cases, a charge he denies. Pracha represents nearly 80 people in the Delhi riots.
Several members of high-level legal experts have argued that the police action could amount to a violation of attorney-client privilege given the related cases in which Pracha is appearing, describing it as an attempt to create pressure on lawyers who They fight for the rights of various riots. victims and accused.
On Friday, duty judge Anshu Singhal accepted two requests from Pracha, who held that the officers in the special cell not only violated attorney-client privilege by removing all data from the computers in his office, but also violated the order. court that specifically ordered the police to “immediately” present any evidence, if found, to the court.
Counsel further relied on article 165 (6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to assert that he was entitled by law to obtain a copy of the records, collected as evidence by the police.
In admitting her request, the magistrate requested that a record of the evidence taken during the raid be presented and published the matter for a further hearing on December 27, and asked the IO special cell to come before her with the detailed images.
Pracha also lobbied for a court-supervised FIR investigation against him, noting that the FIR was registered in August, but that the raid carried out now has a hidden design to deter it from showing up in riot cases.
On this, the magistrate asked the IO Special Cell to present a status report to the corresponding court on January 5.
Speaking to HT after the hearing, Pracha said that the police have shown an egregious example of anarchy and illegalities under the pretext of investigating a bogus FIR registered against unknown persons.
“I don’t even know if they have cited me as a defendant or not in this FIR. Almost four months have passed since the FIR’s registration and there is no charge sheet to date. They took away details of all the cases and clients, which are a privileged communication between a lawyer and his clients. If this is not a witch hunt, what else can it be? I was attacked, but now they tell me that another FIR is presented against me at the request of the assault team, ”he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi police confirmed on Friday that they have registered a case at Hazrat Nizamuddin police station against Pracha on charges of obstructing government officials from doing their duty. The police raid on Pracha’s office began around noon on Thursday and continued until 2.30am on Friday.
In response to Pracha’s accusation of assault by police personnel during the raid, Deputy Police Commissioner (special cell) Manshi Chandra denied the allegations. Officers said police had a search warrant from the court seeking the location of two attorneys. Police said that while the process went smoothly at lawyer Javed Ali’s premises in East Delhi, they faced stiff resistance at Pracha’s office.
Former Additional Attorney General Indira Jaising condemned the raid on Pracha’s office and said such actions will lead to a denial of justice to several defendants and victims in the Delhi riots cases who are entitled to a free and fair trial.
“The bus raid is also an attack on the attorney-client privilege to which Mr. Pracha is entitled, especially for those who are represented by him in connection with the February riots cases. What has happened now with Mr. Pracha appears to be a continuing trend to attack the basic right of legal representation by attacking his lawyers, ”added Jaising.
Lawyer Rizwan, representing suspended councilor Tahir Hussain, said the raids carried out on Pracha’s office are unfortunate and are a deliberate attempt to pressure lawyers representing defendants and victims of the Delhi riots. “Today is Pracha, tomorrow it can be someone else,” he said.