Delhi Police searches at advocate Mehmood Pracha’s office “compromises” the entire criminal justice system and rights of the accused, senior lawyers Prashant Bhushan, Chander Uday Singh and former Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil said Wednesday.
Over 1,200 lawyers have also signed a petition demanding “strict action” against “erring” police officers as well as the judge who allowed the searches. Lawyer Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, an aide of Pracha, said they plan to take out a march from the the High Court to Supreme Court on January 22 to hand over the petition to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde.
“The police action compromises the entire criminal justice system and 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.
Bhushan said the searches, carried out on December 24, raise serious questions. “Pracha is a prominent lawyer who has been defending several persons accused in the February 2020 communal riots in Delhi. He has also been instrumental in getting FIRs registered against the Delhi Police for their malafide investigation into the riots,” Bhushan said.
The police allege that Pracha had forged documents and instigated one Irshad Ali to depose falsely in a case related to the riots. An FIR has also been filed in the matter.
Questioning the search warrant in the case, Bhushan added that instead of searches at his residence, Pracha could have been asked to produce the item concerned, in this case an email, under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
“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.
Bhushan also cited two reports by The Indian Express on the issue to highlight alleged gaps in the official version. In the first report, Ali denied having been called by Pracha to his office, and said he had gone on his own. Another report pointed out that the complainant against Pracha was accused of rioting but managed to secure pre-arrest bail with little opposition from the prosecution.
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