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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Preserve footage of search at lawyer’s office: Delhi court to police

Duty Magistrate Udhav Kumar Jain did not pass any order on handing over the copy of the video to Pracha but passed directions to preserve the footage with its seal and place it before the court concerned for necessary orders.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: December 28, 2020 2:25:31 pm
1,200 lawyers sign petition on searches at Mehmood Pracha’s officeThe police allege that Mehmood Pracha had forged documents and instigated one Irshad Ali to depose falsely in a case related to the riots. (File)

A Delhi court has directed Delhi Police to preserve video footage recorded during the search conducted at advocate Mehmood Pracha’s office last week. Pracha is representing several accused in Northeast Delhi riot cases.

Duty Magistrate Udhav Kumar Jain did not pass any order on handing over the copy of the video to Pracha but passed directions to preserve the footage with its seal and place it before the court concerned for necessary orders.

“… the video, which is the bone of contention, was recorded to ensure fairness while the search was being made… At this stage, only directions for preserving the video footage are deemed necessary. The court concerned can take a call on supplying the video footage to the applicant at an appropriate stage,” the court said in the order passed Sunday. It listed the matter for January 5 before the court concerned.

The court was hearing an application by Pracha claiming he was threatened by the investigating officer while the search was underway at his office.

The Special Cell had searched his office to investigate an FIR, registered in August, which alleged false evidence and forged notary stamps were used to secure bail of an accused arrested in a riots case. Police alleged the complaint letter used to get bail in the case was sent from Pracha’s office computer.

In his application, Pracha said that after the search at his office between December 24 and 25, the IO should have intimated forthwith the search and the seized articles to the magistrate concerned but it was not done. He also said he was entitled to a copy of the footage.

Meanwhile, some office bearers and members of the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to take action on the search at Pracha’s office.

The letter, written by BCD vice-chairperson Himal Akhtar and members K C Mittal and Rajiv Khosla, says there is an understanding between representatives of the Bar Association/Bar Council and the Delhi Police that in case of any case against an advocate, the body will be taken into confidence.

“This broader understanding is to maintain harmony and cordiality between two wings of the justice delivery system. This seems to have not been followed in the present case. While we do not want to go into various aspects of the matter, apparently the action of the Delhi Police falls short on these aspects, which is a very serious matter as far as the legal community is concerned. We notice anguish and anger amongst the legal community, primarily because it goes to the very root and independent discharge of responsibility by an advocate,” the letter read.

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