The Mumbai police’s Cyber Crime Cell has sent summons to the editorial department of US-based website TwoCircles.net, asking it to block and provide details on two online links of interviews pertaining to allegations against the city’s top cop, Rakesh Maria, by lawyer Mehmood Pracha.
According to the letter mailed by the Cyber Cell, the two articles — based on separate interviews of Pracha — headlined ‘Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related: Advocate Pracha’ and ‘Substantive evidence against police of aiding and abetting the real terrorists: Advocate Pracha’ have been asked to be pulled down.
Pracha, who is defending German Bakery bombing convict Himayat Baig, has alleged that Maria should be arrested for implicating an “innocent” man in the blast probe. In one of the interviews by journalist M Reyaz, the article quotes Pracha as having “substantive evidence” against Maria, and accuses him of “using underworld to threaten him”.
Pracha confirmed that he had made the allegations in the two interviews. “If Rakesh Maria finds whatever I have said defamatory, he should send a legal notice to me. Rather than using section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act through cyber crime office, he should address the facts and reply to the issues I have spoken about,” the lawyer said.
When contacted, editor of TwoCircles.net Kashif Ul-Huda, in an email response, said, “We see it as an attempt by Mumbai Police to scare us in taking down the story. It would have been better if they had responded to the serious allegation by a senior advocate. This is a press freedom issue where police is trying to censor views of a senior advocate from coming out in public.”
The summon read: “It is submitted that a false and grossly offensive comments are found to posted in the above mentioned links, which are causing annoyance, inconvenience, insult and hatred to the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai (Maria)”.
It was mailed to the website on Wednesday by Mukund Pawar, senior inspector with the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell. The agency has asked the website to provide them with the IP address of the computer and other details through which the article was uploaded on the Internet. The Crime branch has also asked for periphery details like “login-logout details of user viz. IP address, date and time from creation to till date and any optional email ID given by the user”.
The Mumbai Police Commissioner did not wish to comment on the controversy