The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Monday expressed “shock, deep concern and dismay” over the “search and seizure” conducted by the Delhi Police at the premises of one of its members. The Bar body in a statement called the police action in the case “arbitrary, illegal and a brazen exercise of brute power”, and “contrary to law”.
The statement said that “a search and seizure conducted by the police at the premises of an advocate in a proceeding not pertaining to or relating to a Member of the Bar is a malicious act which defeats the right of an advocate to practice his profession without fear or favour. Such actions are intimidatory and designed to abuse the due process of law by coercing an advocate to succumb to police threats and methods unheard in legal annals”.
The statement did not name the lawyer, but SCBA president Dushyant Dave told The Indian Express: “I strongly condemn the lodging of FIR against Mr Mehmood Pracha and the raid carried out at his place. While acknowledging that Delhi Police is a fine professional organisation, I must say that their investigations into Delhi riot cases are sadly biased and perhaps motivated at the instance of powers be. Far from catching the real culprits who instigated the riots and who happen to be powerful politicians, innocent people belonging to a certain section are being targeted. The likes of Mr Pracha are helping the vulnerable section of society who are being targeted unnecessarily, and so they find themselves being targeted by the government. I do hope and trust that good sense will prevail amongst the investigating officers and the Judiciary and Rule of Law will prevail as it should and as it generally has.”
The SCBA statement added that the Delhi Police action “is in the teeth of the specific provisions of law which recognise the client-lawyer relationship and protects all correspondence between the advocate and his client”, and the “encroachment on the rights of an advocate by the police violates the rights of the accused to a fair trial guaranteed under Article 21, and the protection against self-incrimination guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India jeopardising the rights of the client to a free trial”.
“Taking serious exception to the conduct” of the Delhi Police, it also called upon the force “to immediately forbear, cease and desist from using the information available on devices so seized”.
The Bar body also questioned the grant of warrant by the Magistrate for the search and said the same, done “in a routine mechanical manner, particularly in respect of a lawyer’s communication and correspondences, is antithetical to rule of law and constitutes a disturbing violation of this privilege directly affecting the administration of justice”.
In the same statement, the SCBA also condemned the “brutal assault of a lawyer in the District of Etah in Uttar Pradesh by local police”. It said that the “assault” which happened “in his house when he was with his family is atrocious and unacceptable”, and that “it is a gross and calculated action on the part of the police in total contravention of law”.
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