NEW DELHI–More than 1,200 lawyers have signed a petition demanding “strict action” against “erring” Delhi police officers as well as the judge for raiding advocate Mehmood Pracha’s office last month.
Senior lawyers Prashant Bhushan, Chander Uday Singh, and former Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil on Wednesday said Delhi Police searches at advocate Mehmood Pracha’s office “compromises” the entire criminal justice system and the rights of the accused.
“The police action compromises the entire criminal justice system and the rights of the accused. The search warrant also goes against the fundamental principles of the justice system. The communication between a client and a lawyer is completely privileged. This is one of the pillars of the judicial system,” Singh told a press conference also attended by Pracha.
Lawyer Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, an aide of Pracha, said they plan to take out a march from the High Court to Supreme Court on January 22 to hand over the petition to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde.
The lawyers said Pracha is a prominent lawyer who has been defending persons accused by the Delhi police and its special cell, including those accused in the Delhi riots cases. “He has also been instrumental in getting FIRs registered against the Delhi police for their one-sided and malafide investigation resulting in framing the innocent and protecting those guilty in the riots. He has initiated other criminal proceedings against functionaries of the RSS and BJP for their involvement in recent Delhi riots,” they said.
The lawyers said on December 24, 2020, the special cell of the Delhi police came to his residence ostensibly to execute a search warrant under section 93 of the Criminal Procedure Code on an FIR No 212 of 2020 which essentially appears to allege that Pracha sent emails annexing a complaint of one Sharif Malik, which was signed and thumb marked by him, which was fabricated and sent by Pracha to various authorities through his email ID.
“The search warrant ostensibly `authorizes the IO to search for the said incriminating documents and Metadata of outbox of email. Under the guise of executing this warrant, the police allegedly wanted to seize the hard disks of his computers. Pracha however prevented that since it was not authorized by the search warrant. However, police got access to his computer, inserted devices to access and take away whatever information they wanted or could access from the computers in and operation lasting about 15 hours,” they said
The lawyers said Pracha had complained that the police officers who came for the search were threatening him by using the name of the home minister Amit Shah and it is therefore imperative that the video recordings be furnished to him without delay.
“The intention was to intimidate Pracha and his clients. The police have also refused to share the video recording of the searches. Because if they share, it will be revealed that they were taking the Union Home Minister’s name during the searches,” Bhushan alleged.
Judge (retd) Patil also said that the searches were “against the principles of natural justice”. “To look for one purported email, they deputed 200 cops and carried out a search spanning over 15 hours,” Patil said.