March 10, 2021 12:42:42 am
A team of counter intelligence of the Special Cell Tuesday went to conduct searches at the Nizamuddin East office of lawyer Mahmood Pracha in a case related to alleged use of forged documents in judicial records in a Northeast Delhi riots case, but returned after they found the office locked. Pracha’s firm Legal Axis is defending several persons accused in cases related to the riots.
The same team along with technical experts had searched the office in December 2020 as well. “On Tuesday, after getting the court’s order for a search warrant, a team went to Pracha’s office but found it locked. They wanted to get a hard disk from a computer. They called the owner of the premises, who said he couldn’t come today and asked them to return tomorrow,” said a senior police officer.
The December raids had been condemned by members of the legal fraternity, who called it a breach of attorney-client privilege.
Meanwhile, Pracha, in an application moved before a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Tuesday, said police have already collected documents and accessed all computers installed in his office during the raids conducted in December 2020. He further alleged that the case against him is “completely baseless” and has been instituted with the sole objective of “hounding” him at the behest of and as “a part of conspiracy involving senior politicians, bureaucrats and even judicial officers”.
Pracha in the application said that he volunteers to furnish any specific documents sought by the investigation agency and also re-furnish whatever was taken during the previous exercise. While seeking modification of a court order passed on March 2 regarding seizure of a computer, he sought a direction that he may be required to produce the computer before the court itself, adding that the police can then extract the documents concerned from it in presence of the court.
The court issued a notice to the police in the application for Wednesday morning.
”The demand of the IO and Inspector (Rajiv) Kumar for the hard disks of any of the computers of the applicant is absolutely illegal and unjustified especially since the specific documents, etc are already in their possession from the previous exercise itself,” Pracha said in the application.
The police on March 2 had told the court that a computer containing the “incriminating document” was identified but the same was not allowed by Pracha to be seized. While permitting the search of Pracha’s office for seizure of the identified computer, the court had directed that the search be conducted in the presence of a senior police officer equivalent to the rank of DCP with adequate police officers, and also ordered videography of the whole process.
Pracha told The Indian Express that he was not present at the office when the police had come to search it. In his application, he has said that he is going to the extent of risking self-implication for the sake of protecting the data and information pertaining to his clients.
“I am willing to sacrifice myself to protect the interest of my clients. The court has ordered that the entire computer has to be handed over; it has privilege and secrets which are unconnected to the case, that is why I am willing to risk my self-implication in the case by going to the extent of saying that ‘okay my computer was involved in drafting that complaint and sending it also’. This is purely to protect the life and interest of my other clients who will get compromised because the Home Minister wants to know what proof I have got against the government, him and other RSS-BJP… I would risk self-implication to protect my clients,” Pracha told The Indian Express.
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