Legal Fraternity Blasts Delhi Police for Raid on Mehmood Pracha Office

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Screengrab of the video where advocate Mehmood Pracha can be seen talking to Delhi police personnel during the raid.

Supreme Court warned of protest for not hearing important cases

Team Clarion 

NEW DELHI — Legal luminaries like Prashant Bhushan, Chander Uday Singh and Justice (Retired) Kolse Patil on Wednesday made scathing attack on the Delhi Police for raiding the office of senior Supreme Court lawyer Mehmood Prach recently. They also criticised the Supreme Court for not hearing important cases and warned of a protest by lawyers.

Addressing a press conference at the Press Club of India, they said the police raid conducted on Pracha’s office completely contravenes attorney-client privilege.

Pracha is a well known human rights lawyer who has been representing accused in the Delhi riots cases of February last year. He has consistently been alleging that the Delhi Police is running a “one-sided and mala fide investigation” implicating innocent people in riot cases.

On December 24, a team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell raided Pracha’s office in the capital’s Nizamuddin area. The police were carrying a search warrant to investigate a case against the lawyer claiming that he had concocted emails to create false witnesses. Pracha alleged that the police under the garb of search “hacked into his computers” and took away data breaching the attorney-client privilege. Pracha also alleged that he was threatened by the police officials using the name of Home Minister Amit Shah.

Expressing their solidarity with Pracha, the speakers at the press conference questioned the intent of the police and scanning Pracha’s computers by them. They asked what was the need to look into the computer when the said mail could have easily been obtained from the authorities to whom it was sent? They said the real motive behind the raid was “to get hold of all the information in his computer systems which not only contained his personal and private information but in particular contained communications between him and his clients which are protected.”

The speakers expressed concern over the violation of attorney client-privilege protected under Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. They said no summons or orders were issued under sec. 91 of CrPC demanding Pracha to produce alleged incriminating material before resorting to raid to conduct search and seizure operation.

The attempt to take away the “hard disks of his computers and/or all information in his computers is not merely illegal and a violation of the evidence Act and Bar Council Rules but is a clearly mala fide attempt by the police to intimidate and harass Pracha,” they said.

Bhushan also pointed fingers at the conduct of the Supreme Court. A number of cases with far-reaching implications for the nation were pending before the apex court. But those cases are not being taken up. This calls for a formal protest by lawyers, the way it was done during the Emergency when the Supreme Court had surrendered before the executive. “We are faced with a similar situation. It is high time lawyers come together and register their protest,” he said.

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